(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Calm examination of Dr. McMaster's letters on civil government"

E9' 



VALiM EXAMINATION 



DR. MCMASTER'S LETTERS 



OS 



civile GOVERJ^MEJST, 



BY THE 



REV. BATID SCOTT. 



NEWBURGH 



PRrNTCD £r CHARLES U. CUSBIM AN, AT THE OrflCX 07 TH& 
NEWBURGH TELEORAPB. 



1832. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2014 



https://archive.org/details/calmexaminationoOOscot 



Calm Examinatiou 



Of Br, McMasierU LeUers on Civil OovernmetU* 

These letters which are four in number, consider so many 
distinct views of civil government, particularly in application 
to the United States of America. 

The first letter embraces the "origin, character, and duties 
of civil government." The second considers " the moral esti- 
mate of the civil institutions of the United States." The third 
gives a view of the character of the federal government." 
And in the fourth " objections" are " considered." 

Viewed as a literary production these letters are very re- 
spectable ; and in point of ingenuity do more than support the 
former credit of their author. We have always been disposed 
to allow Dr. McMaster more than mediocrity of talent; and 
the adroitness with which he has conducted his subject in the 
present case, shows that we have not been mistaken. W e would 
have been glad to have had an opportunity of saying as much 
in behalf of his candor in conducting the inquiry. Here we 
are compelled to stop short, in the expression of approbation. 
There is often in these letters more ingenuity than sound argu- 
ment; and it happens not unfrequently that the argument is 
more solid than fairly and logically applied. Throughout 
there is a .kind of intellectual legerdemain, well fitted to carry 
along with it superficial readers, which disappears upon a closer 
investigation, leaving only a pretending plausibility, instead of 
the satisfactory conviction of truth. Those readers whose 
minds are already made up on this subject^ and anxious to act 
on the decision, and have been waiting only till they could 
obtain a pretext for so great a practical change as the view of 
civil government here advocated necessarily leads to, among 
reformed Presbyterians, will hail these letters, not only as au 
apology, but as a vindication of their opinions on civil govern- 
ment. 

It is not intended to pass a universal censure upon all the 
opinions which this pamphlet contains, nor to insinuate that 
the reasoning by which they are supported is always fallacious. 
But in many instances, while v/e assent to the statement in its 
abstract form, and admit the weightofthe reasoning by which 
it is sustained, we are compelled to dissent from the use to which 
it is applied. A statement of principle may be correct; but 
the particular application of it may be erroneous; or the prin- 



4 



ciple may be correct, and the application legitimate, but from 
It, false conclusions may be derived. The effect of the whole 
will be to mislead. It is not difficult for an ingenious writer 
in this way to Ijewilder his readers; nor does it seldom hap- 
pen, that an author, writing under the influence of preconceived 
opinons, may impose upon himself, eitlier by making an illogical 
use of a sound principle, or by deducing from it false inferences. 
On the other hand it may happen that the conclusions are 
fairly deduced from the "principle laid down in the premises; 
but the principle is assumed ; it may be either partly or wholly 
erroneous. 

All these fallacies are found in the letters of Dr. McMaster 
on civil government. Those who have not been accustomed 
to examine long processes of ratiocination, may find it difficult 
to detect the incorrect principle, guard against the im|>roper 
use of that which is correct, or perceive tlie erroneous deduc- 
tion ; for the sake of 6uch is this examination undertakerj. 

The first letter contains seven distinct posiilons, embracing 
the " origin, character, and duties oi civil government." 

The first position is defective, both as it respects the end 
of civil government, and the standard by which it is to be con- 
stituted and administered. "Good to man" is the only end 
assigned in this position to the ordinance of magistracy ; and 
the law of nature, the only standard of its constitution and 
administration. We give the position entire in the writer's 
own words. Civil government is the ordinance of God, as. 
the Creator and Governor of the world, for good to man, found- 
ed on the moral law of our social nature, the principles of 
which law are the standard of Its actual constitution and ad- 
ministration." It is thought that the viev*^ of civil government 
which contains such radical defects, will neither be accurate 
nor scriptural. Magistracy which is an ordinance of God, is 
considered without having any reference to his glory, or any res^ 
pect to his revealed law, in its formation and exercise. " Good 
to man" is indeed the immediate end ; but there is another, 
which is ultimate, and more important — the glory of God. — - 
The Westminster Confessionof Faith, the most excellent of aH 
human systems, specially includes this, as the great end of civil 
government among men. " God, the Supreme Lord and King 
of all the world hath ordained civil magistrates to be under 
him over the people, for his own glory and the public good ; 
and to this end he hath armed them with the power of the 
sword for the defence and encouragement of them that are 
good, and for the punishnient of evil doers."* The position 
then is dci'ective as it respects the end of government; it is 
made to rest in the good of the creature, while the glory of the 
Creator, the more important end, is entirely overlooked. 
* Chap. 23. 



6 



Nor is "the moral law of our social nature" the slaridard 
by which civil government is to be constituted and administer- 
ed. It is true that civil government flows from God, the Cre- 
ator; and obligation to obedience arises from our relation to 
Him, as his creatures: — But this is no reason why the princi- 
ples of nature should be taken as the standard of constitution 
and administration of government. Every kind of obligatioa 
under which man is, flows primarily from God, the Creator. — 
Were the same reasoning, therefore, which l.)r. McMaster em- 
ploys in the illustration of his position, applied in its full ex- 
tent, the law of nature would necessarily become the standard 
by which every obligation of man, and every relation in which 
he stands, should be regulated and governed. And if men are 
not prepared to go this length, they should hesitate before they 
act upon a principlp which leads to it, if they would not be 
found at war with consistency. The adoption of such a prin- 
cii)le would prove too much, and therefore proves nothing. 

The law of nature is the only standard which heathens have 
to guide them in the constitution and administration of civil 
government J and so, it is the only standard which they have 
10 guide them in every duty and every obhgation which they 
owe to God and one another; in the services of religion as 
well as in the duties of civil government. But this can be no 
reason why tliose who have the light of revelation should re- 
fuse its advantage, and be content with the guidance of mere 
natural principles. The whole of revelation is predicated on 
the ignorance and sinfulness of mankind; and is intended to 
supply the deficiency of the light of nature ; it affords for eve- 
ry relation in Ijfe, instruction that is infinitely superior to the 
principles of our social nature. The former is the perfect 
light of heaven, clear and unclouded ; the latter is only the 
wreck and shattered remains of the law, which v/as originally 
written on man's conscience; the few feeble rays which it 
emanates, are utterly unfit to direct him in the performance of 
any duty. The light of revelation was given to supply the de- 
ficiency of mere reason and natural conscience; its authority 
is paramount, and obligatory upon all who possess it. For 
while the heathen, who have not the written law, shall be judg- 
ed without the law, those who have the written law shall be 
judged by it. It is that by which the conduct of men shall be 
tried in their constitutions and administrations of government, 
as well as in the things of religion * 

Less attention should have been given to this obnoxious fea- 
ture of the Doctor's first position, had we viewed it as a mere 
omission : this, however, it is not. The position is evidently 
designed to include all that is necessary for the i'raming and ad- 
ministering of civil government — the principles cf nature. So 

* l{i)»o. 2. 1-2. 



far Dr. McMaster agrees with the Secession Church, in her 
views of mai^istracy. Against these, the testimony of the Re- 
formed Presbyterian Church has been given. '-The holr 
scriptures, wherever they are enjoyed, should be considered 
and applied as a corapleie rule of laith and practice, to all des- 
criptions of men, in every deparliueni of human life. I have 
often been made to wonder, what our Seceding brethren could 
discover, so remarkably peculiar and odd about civil govern- 
ment : they always consider the light of ciaiure sutiicient to 
direct men, with respect to the proper requisites of it ; while 
they never speak of this being the case with respect to any 
thing else which concerns the moral conduct of men '-The 
Presbytery do hereby rejr^ct and condemn that anti-scriptural 
principle and opinion, that the Divine scriptural ordinance of 
magistracy hath not its foundation in the moral preceptive law 
of God, (wherein alone his will is revealed and declared unto 
his people, concerning the nature, use and ends of aUhis ordi- 
nances,) but in tiie subjective light of nature, so confused and 
dark, that neither the true nature of this nor any other of the 
ordinances of Jehovah, as revealed in his word, can hereby be 
known, or the true use and ends thereof sufficiently discover- 
ed."! After reading these quotations, the reader, may judge 
of the correctness of Dr. McMaster's position. He will be sat- 
isfied that it is not the sentiment of Covenanters. Inaccurate, 
however, as it is, it is that upon w-hich rests much of the rea- 
soning which follows in the subsequent part of the letters on 
civil government. 

"Position II. — Political and Ecclesiastical society are es- 
sentially different from each other in their nature, government, 
and immediate ends.'' This is ambiguously expressed. ^Ve 
agree with it, so far as it asserts that political and ecclesiasti- 
cal society are different from each other in their nature and go- 
vernment. But, whether they are different in their immediate 
.e4[ids will depend upon the meaning which may be attached to 
these words. Il it is designed to intimaie only, iliai civil gov- 
ernment has an immediate respect to the outward well-being of 
society; and that religion respects the spiritual and immortal 
ifiteresis of men, we have no disposition to dissent. There is 
oae sense, however, in which the '-immediate ends'' are the 
same. They are both designed to promote the good of man, 
-T-ihe one his present; the other, both his present and his eter- 
nal good. 

*• Position III. — It is not the mere fact of the existence of a 
political power, but the possession by it of tiiose attributes 
which fit it to answer the eiids of its institution, that makes it 
the moral ordinance of God." This verbally expresses a truth ; 

* Trwdi no enemy to pesee, by lite ReT. Joitn Rekl, p. p- 6, 109. 



but so vaguely expressed, as to leave room for very different 
applications. It is true, that '*tliemere fact of the existence 
of a political power" does not make it the mOral ordinance of 
God. This we are anxious to maintain: and it has been al- 
ways maintained by the Reformed Presbyterian Church — but 
denied by those who have differed with her on the subject of 
magistracy. The principle is correct, — that the possession of 
power does not constitute any government the ordinance of 
God, " but the possession by it of those attributes which fit it 
to answer the ends of jts institution." To this part of the po- 
sition we object, as it leaves every one to give his own enume- 
ration of these attributes. Perhaps Dr. McMaster and his read- 
ers might differ much as to the attributes which enable a gov- 
ernment to answer the ends of its institution. They might 
differ, both as to the character and number of those attributes. 
We regard this position, then, as intimating nothing; because 
it is indefinite. In the illustration of his position, the Dr. says, 
**no man ever believed the slavish opinion," that '-the simple 
existence of a power is evidence of its right to rule." He must 
surely have a strong love of paradox, who can make such an 
assertion. Whether seriously believed or not, men have deli- 
berately written it, and maintained it with obstinacy. And 
Covenanters have found it necessary to testify against it.* 

With the sentiment expressed in the concluding paragraph 
we cordially agree. "The doing of an immoral act may nei- 
ther be imposed as a term of political fellow^ship, nor yielded 
to, in order to the enjoyment of civil advantages." We have 
mistaken far, indeed, the general tendency of these letters, if, 
in any way, they will help to preserve men from sinning for the 
sake "of civil advantages." In this respect they are more 
likely to prove a snare to the consciences of weak and unstable 
men, who are too apt to find an apology for their immoralities, 
in the opinions of eminent writers. 

"Position IV. — With national society, even when morally 
constituted, no man may^ in any ordinary case, be compelled to 
incorporate." That civil society is a voluntary association will 
not, we apprehend, be disputed. 

"Position V. — Mere defects in high and ultimate moral at- 
tainments, if fundemental attributes be in conformity with, and 
in nothing contrary to moral principle, will not render illegiti- 
mate a constitution of government." This position may be as- 
sented to or denied, just as we understand what is meant by 
" mere defects in high and ultimate moral attainments." There 
are some defects which would "not render illegitimate, a con- 
stitution of government;" there are others that would. 

The reasoning employed in the illustration of this position 
is, certainly of a peculiar kind ; we hope it will not have much 

* Sc« reformation principle?, p. 113, first part 



influence on the religious public : — The direct tendency of it 
is to disjoin what the Author of order has connected in the in- 
stitution of magistracy. "I see no reason why the power of 
promoting the interests of morals, as well as of personal wealth, 
may not be as safe in the hands of an enlightened and virtuous 
people, as in the possession of those who may be raised by 
ihem to the exercise of a little brief authority," If Dr. Mc- 
Master does not see any reason why the magistrate should be 
trusted with the guardianship of public morality, we fear it is 
because his mind is biassed and warped iy unscriptural notions 
of civil government. On this subject the word of God is 
pointed, and may afford to any man a "reason," if he is not 
unreasonable, and wiihal, disobedient to apostolic authority, 
why the magistrate is entrusted with the care of public morals. 
"For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. — 
Wilt thou not then be afraid of the power .'^ Do that which is 
good, and thou shalt have praise of the same : for he is the 
minister of God to thee for good, — But, if thou do that which 
is evil, be afraid : for he beareth not the sword in vain — for he 
is the minister of God, a revenger, to execute wrath upon him 
that doeth evil,""^ 

The following assertion requires some qualification. "A 
simple want will never justify the rejection of a system posi- 
tively moral." Before this can be safely assented to it is 
necessary to know what the "simple want" is. A want in a 
civil constitution may be so great as to destroy its character as 
the ordinance of God. It may be such, as to fix upon it the 
character of infidel, or even atheistic : the want may be of such 
a nature as to stamp indelibly upon the constitution, the cha- 
racter of immoral. The simple want may become a positive 
immorality, and expose the constitution, in which it is found, to 
the rejection of the fearers of God. The assertion then, at first 
sight, though apparently very simple, may include a great deal. 
And because w^e think it was designed to do so, we have taken 
notice of it; and dissent from it as unscriptural, and inconsistent 
with the standards of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Sin 
is defined to be "any want of conformity unto, or transgression 
of the law of God."f Now, if want of conformity to the law 
of God will make an act sinful, as well as a positive transgres- 
sion of the law would, then want of conformity to the law of 
God will make a civil constitution immoral, even when there 
may not be a positive immoral enactment contained in it. — 
Nor would it be difficult to find exemplifications of this in some 
existing civil constitutions ! 

To support an assertion which is thus evidently at variance 
with correct principles, Dr. McMaster has made a quotation 

• Kom. 13, 3—4. 
t Shorter Catechism* 



troiii th^ writings df the late Rev. "VV m. ^>teVfen, It i;VOulcI have 
been but fair tu have told tlie risader, that the letter of Mr» 
Steven, from which the quotation is made, was written ex- 
pressly for the purpose of e'/.posing a view of civil governrnentj 
of which, the assertion of Dr. 3IcMaster is one feature. It is 
no breach of charily to say, that this quotation has been intro- 
duced for the purpose of producing effect. The liame o( Ste- 
ten is well known among Co^'enanters : lie was an eminent 
minister, and able defender of Refornied Presbyterian princi- 
ples* If an insulated passage, of his writings could be found 
to give countenance to Dr. 31c.Master's opinion, he has no 
scruple to employ it in a sense that is utterly inconsistent with 
the whole spirit and design of Mr. Steven. But, let the pas* 
sage, separated as it is from the context, speak for itself.—** 
There is a manifest and great diflerenco between a simple 
defect in a deed of civil constitution, whereby a matter of great 
importance may be left unprovided for, or unsecured — and an 
error whereby a matter of the highest importance must la 
barred out and buried, and a grave-stone laid and establislied 
upon it."^ That there is a ditference between the things 
tnentioned by Mr. Steven is cleai', and shows a spirit of can- 
dor on his part:—- but this can neither prove nor illustrate, 
that **a simple want will never justify the rejection of a system 
positively moral," when, as it has been shown,' a simple want 
may be of such a nature as to render a constitution immoral 
in its character. 

The unfair use which the Doctor makes of the famous pas- 
sage in the confession of faith, " that Infidelity or diuerence in 
religion, doth not make void the magistrate's Just and legal au- 
thority," we shall have an opportunity of showing in a subse- 
quent part of our examination, where it is again pressed into 
his service. 

"Position VI. — Every nation, in its civil character, to which 
the revelation of the Son of God, as Emanuel, is made, and 
which, according to that revelation, is summoned to submit to 
him, is bound to confess his name; not merely in v/ords, but 
siihsiantiallij^ really^ and practically, as Lord of all." 

This position meets our warmest approbation. It is truth : 
but it is directly opposed to the first position. The one is con- 
tradictory to the oiheri The one confines the standard by 
which a civil constituiion is to be formed and administered to 
the principles of nature? :-—the other makes a confession of the 
name of the Son of God obligatory. But how is it possible 
by the mere principles of nature, that, any nation could " not 
merely in words, but substantially, really, and practically" sub- 
mit to Emanuel, "as Lord of all.^" Does the light of nature, 

• We refer the reader, for furiher »tisf;icuon, to Ihe original dooumcnt, Steven's 
neoond letter to Fletcher, p. SI . 

B 



10 



or, as the Doctor calls it '"the moral law of our social na- 
ture," teach the doctrine of obligation to Emanuel? If nor, 
how is the knowledge of this obligation obtained? It is ap- 
,prehended that Dr. McMaster considers this as answered by 
the restriction which the sixth position contains: — "Every na- 
tion to which the revelation, of the Son of God, as Emanuel, 
is made." If advantage is taken of this restriction, it is an ad- 
mission that "the . moral law of our social nature'' is not the 
universal " standard of actual constitution and administration 
of government that it can be the standard only among hea- 
thens, who have not the revealed will of God. — And if so^ 
with what conscience could the following expression be pen- 
ned, which we find as part of the illustration of the first posi- 
tion? "It is the fimatic alone who ^\ill endeavor to settle it 
upon another foundation than the common law of our common 
nature." From this, it is apparent that Dr. McMaster did not 
mean to place much weight on his sixth position : for we can- 
not believe that he meant seriously to rank himself among 
fanatics! In the first position, he has carefully enforced the 
doctrine, that the common law of our common nature is "the 
standard of actual constitution and administration" of govern- 
ment; and as the sixth position introduces another law which 
is not common to our nature, we can look upon its introduc- 
tion in no other light than as designed to divert the reader's 
attention, and keep him from being too much alarmed with the 
novel sentiment contained in the first position.* We hope, 
however, that christians will not be thrown off their guard. 

For the sake of maintaining consistency. Dr. McMaster 
should have blotted out one or other of these two positions. — 
But, perhaps it is too much to expect, «^onsistency, in such a 
case. When a writer undertakes to war with the commonly 
received sentiments of the community of which he is a mem- 
ber, his anxiety to propagate his own sentiments, and fear, on 
the other hand, of giving unnecessary alarm, will lead him, un- 
awares to self contradiction and inconsistency. 

"Position Vll. — In perfect accordance with the last posi- 
tion, it is held, that until a nation make it so by its own deed, 
the recognition of no principle peculiar to the system of grace 
can be considered as necessary to the validity of its actual con- 
stitution of government as a moral ordinance of God." This 
is utterly repugnant and contradictory to the preceding posi- 
tion, and aifords another instance of the extreme difficulty of 
being consistently erroneous. Circumstances render it neces- 
sary to preserve a portion of truth; and with this the error is 
mixed up. But however artfully it is done, the amalgamation 
is never so perfect as to escape detection; and often, as in the 
present case, it is so imperfect as to impose only on those who 

* Novel, we Uitan, iu Uie Ucrormcil f resbYUriuii Church. 



11 



wish to be imposed on — those with whom a regard to secu- 
lar advantage prevails over the love of truth. 

In the sixth position it is asserted that " every nation, in its 
civil character, to which the revelation of the son of God, as 
Emanuel, is made, is bound to confess his name; not merely in 
words, but substantially, really^ and practically, as Lord of 
all." And in the seventh it is said "that until a nation make 
it so by its own deed, the recognition of no principle peculiar 
to the system of grace, can be considered as necessary to the- 
validity of its actual constitution of government as a moral ord- 
inance of God." We have yet to learn how these two posi- 
tions can be "in perfect accordance" with one another. To 
us they appear to be perfectly opposed to one another 5 as op- 
posed as night is to day. Does Dr. McMaster imagine that 
his dogmatical assertion, that they are "in perfect accordance" 
either, makes them so, or will satisfy intelligent readers? — 
Surely, he has counted largely on the credulity and ignorance 
of those whom he expected to read these letters, if, for one in- 
stant, he could suppose that this assertion would obtain the 
slightest credit ! 

Is the obligation to submit to Emanuel not a principle pe- 
culiar to the system of grace ?" If it is, as not even the Doc- 
tor himself, will pretend to gainsay, why are nations not bound 
to confess his name ^ It will require more skill than falls to 
the lot of mortals, to understand how nations, who are 
bound to submit to Emanuel, may constitute a government 
which shall be the moral ordinance of God and yet recognize 
" no principle peculiar to the system of grace ?" Either sub- 
mission to Emanuel is not a principle peculiar to the system 
of grace ; or, after all that has been said, nations are not bound 
to submit to him ; or, if they are bound, the obligation arises 
from their own deed. It cannot be ihe first: no man will say 
that submission to Emanuel is taught by the light of nature : 
it is, then, peculiar to the system of grace. It is not the se- 
cond, for it is admitted in the sixth position, that nations are 
bound to submit to Emanuel and confess his name. It must^ 
then, be the third, viz : That the obligation arises from a na- 
tional deed. That is, nations are bound to submit to Emanuel, 
and confess his name ; but they are not bound till they bind 
themselves by their " own deed." There is no obligation, it 
seems, arising from the authority of God ! The nations of the 
earth are certainly indebted to Dr. McMaster, for thus freeing 
them from the charge of rejecting Emanuel, by this new discov- 
ery in christian politics. JVeio, did we say? No! it is as old 
as "the scripture loyalist" and other seceder writings, from 
which the Doctor appears to have been taking lessons. 

Having announced his seventh position, the Doctor says, " I 
am fully apprised of my liability, in the assertion now made, to 



11^ 

be misunderstood by some good men, rnd to be opposed by 
other?, who have cnnfmrd tlirir Imbits of tlionght upon \b\s snb- 
j;Ct, too exclnslvply to the ronsideration of what ought to br, 
and what will he the fiua] attainments of society,"' &:c. It ap- 
pears that the Doctor liad niiscivings, as to the reception 
which his astounding doctrine might have. He was fully 
Apprised" of his ^'liabiliiy to be misunderstood.'* That he 
should have been so apprised, is not to be vyondrred at. Wlieii 
a man sets truth at defiance, and contradicts himself, he may 
expect ihzi his readers will misunderstand him. Apid it i"? 
well, if he understands himself. The Doctor is also *• fully 
apprised" that he may be opposed by goocj men, who iiave 
loo exclusively confined their habits of thought upon this sub- 
ject to what ought to he. Whether the term good may he 
justly ripplled to us or not, candor compel;^ u'^ to claim a place 
among these ?ame good men. We plead ruilty of very "ex- 
clusively" confining our habits of thought on this subject to 
what Q^dght to he; and, however simple it may seem in the 
eyes of Dr. TjIcMaster, conscientiously refuse to give our as- 
sent to, or knowingly recognize what ovghf not to be. 

To avoid being misunderstood, our iVithor meniions n num- 
ber of things which he says, he does not mean by his seventh^ 
position : and then tells us what he does mean ; v. hich, after 
all, is very apparent from the position itself, without any refer- 
ence to these negative and positive explanations. But, 1st uq 
attend to the reasons which he gives in defence of his position.. 
*/ I sustain my position by the admitted trtuh, that civil order 
and its authority arc vpt founded in grace.'' It is granted that 

civil order and its authority are tiot founded in r.race." But, 
frorn this it does not follow that *Uhe recognition of no prin- 
ciple, peculiar to the system of grace,'' can be considered ne^ 
cessary to the validity of its constitution and administration in 
n nation, enjoying the light of revealed truth. This may he 
illustrated hy reference to an analngous case — the religious ho- 
mage which we owe to God. This is not, any more tl-.r.n civis 
gqvernrnent, foimded in grace. Like the ordinance of magis- 
tracy, it is founded in the moral relation in which we ntand lo 
God; it is from God, the Creator, in its original institution.-— 
The institution of religious homage rrises out of the relation in 
which the r^itional creatures of God sir.nd towards him, as their 
Creator: and they were fitted for it by the religious constitu- 
tion of their minds. Because religion was primarily foimded in 
the law of nature, and directed in its exercise by the light of 
nature ; yet it does not follow, that it still rests on the law of 
nature, and is directed hy the light of nature. — None, but an 
infidel would pretend to ray so ; and yet, this would be as true 
as that civil government is the ordinance of God, when it is 
constituted and administered without any regard to the author- 



Uy of God. The truth is, that neither religion nor civil gov^ 
eminent were originally founded in grace : hut in the law of 
nature; and the light of nature would have heen sufficient to 
direct man in the practice of both, had he continued in a state 
of innocencCo While our common parents remained in their 
state of original holiness, this was undoubtedly the case: but with 
the loss of innocence man lost the greater part of his knowledge, 
^* having the understanding darkened through the ignorance 
that is in them."* The intrqduction of sin into our world has 
made a supernatural revelation of the will of God necessary to 
guide man in every relation of life. Such a revelation has 
been given— a revelation embracing instructions in every de- 
partment of human duty. On the subject of civil government, 
as well as of religion, it contains a re-promulgation of the will 
of God, respecting man as member of civil society as well as 
a religious being. *' Let every soul be subject to the higher 
powers." Moreover, thou slialt provide out of all the people, 
able men, cuch as fear God, — men of truth, hating covetous- 
ness ! and let them judge the people at all sensons."f This 
re-promulgation of the ordinance of magistracy does not change 
its original basis j it continues to have its foundation in the law 
of nature-^ihe will of God, the Creator. But it does alter the 
standard by which civil government is to be constituted and 
ndmiuistered ; the light of nature is no longer the standard. — = 
When God reveals his will on any subject, man is not at liber- 
ty to take adv'antage of the light thus given, or neglect it, as he 
may judge proper. He is bound, at the peril of rebellion, to 
recognize the principle of supernatural ligfit, The applica- 
tion of this general principle to civ il government is obvious and 
easy. In this care, the obligation to obedience rests not upon 
the *^ voluntary act" of a community, but on the fact of pos- 
sessing a supernatural revelation. The Inw of nature is the 
rule of the magistrate's duty, and embraces the scripture reve- 
lation for its illustration and aid; because it necessarily binds 
pll the subjects of rfloral government, to attend to every com-=? 
munication which the author of nature makes to them of his 
will."J Dr. McMaster adm.its that natipns which have ac* 
cess to the light of the gospel, and yet neglect it, greatly sjn,"-^ 
And, if we do not greatly err, the naan sins who gives an ap- 
proval of a constitution and administration cf government, in 
which "the light of the gospel is neglected. "--rKor, if sin is 
committed by neglecting *Mhe light of the gospeT' in the Con- 
stitution of the government, the constitution must, of course, be 
Finful; and he who approves cf that which is sinfid commits 
sin by doing so, 

•Kph. 4. 18, 

tUoro IS. 1.— Kxod. JR. 21, ^. 

* McM» .»! Go\priii>r of i!»e liRiion?- p. Si. 



14 



The illustrations employed by Dr. McMaster to elucidate 

his argument, are not to the point. In the cases of marriage, 
or the work of the ministry, whatever sin a man may comrait 
by not assuming these relations, is his own. Other men are 
not called upon to give any approbation of his immorality : but 
by acknowledging a civil conslitution, an approbation is given 
which may involve an immorality. 

Although a nation, refuse or neglect to form iheir constitu- 
tion of civil order according to the light of the gospel, it would 
not be desirable to have it annihilated, and the people left in a 
state of anarchy. While a people maintain a dislike to the 
law of God, and refuse obedience to the Messiah, it is beiter 
for themselves, and for those who may live among them, that 
they have a government formed on the law of nature, howev- 
er defective, than have absolute anarchy and confusion. — But, 
this affords no reason why a christian should give his approba- 
tion, to such a defective and sinful constitution of government. 

If they will depend on the light of nature, let them,'^ the chris- 
tian may say, ''it is better thai they take the light of nature, 
than reject both it and the light of revelation :-— But I cannot, 
without sinning, incorporate myself with such a society; T can- 
not approve of their constitution of civil governmeni; I cannot 
identify myself with it by an oath of allegiance, because the 
revealed will of God is not the rule by which it is constituted 
&nd administered." 

But, says Dr. IMcMaster, " civil society, existing upon its 
original basis, and its affairs administered in correspondence 
with its own primitive law, is legitimate." Here we have as- 
sertion without even an attempt at proof. Truly, if we were 
disposed to yield up our understanding and conscience to the 
ipse dixit of our author, the controversy might soon be ended. 
It has already been shown, that the bible contains a re-promul- 
gation of the ordinance of civil government, prescribing its 
moral character, and the character of its administration. " Ci- 
vil society existing on its original basis,*' that is the law, of na- 
ture, cannot be ^'legitimate," therefore, unless that may be le- 
gitimate which has no respect to the authority of God. If it 
were legitimate, christians might be placed in an awful dilem- 
ma : because they would be bound to approve of and submit 
to it ; and that too, for conscience sake ! — And yet the bible, 
which in such a case is utterly neglected, has a superior claim 
on the conscience. — " Whether it be right, in the sight of God, 
to hearken unto you more than God, judge ye." 

Were Dr. I^IcMaster's views on this part of the subject uni- 
versally applied, they would discard entirely ihe supreme ob- 
ligation of llie scriptures, and lead immediately to intidclity. — 
Religion, as has been already observed, is, as well as civil gov- 
ernment, founded in the law of nature. Let the Doctor's prin- 



ciple be applied lo tliis^ and then we will see its follj-. No 
principle can be correct that would lead to the conclusion, that 
religion, existing upon its original basis, the law of nature, was 
legitimate 5 and yet this would be a fair conclusion, if the prin- 
ciple were correct. Again, Dr. McMaster appeals to "au" 
thorities of high name" to sustain his position. "The whole 
assembly of Westminster Divines, the church of Scotland in 
her brightest day, and the several denominations of Presbyte- 
rians, the descendants of that church, maintained and still 
maintain the assertion I have made." "Infidelity or differ- 
ence in religion doth not make void the magistrate's just and 
legal authority :" it is a part of the creed of the whole Presby- 
terian family, solemnly recognized and professed* The Re- 
formed Presbyterian branch of this householdj adheres with 
decision to this as well as to the other principles of her vener- 
able confessionc" There is in this passage, we fearj some- 
thing worse than mistake ; something for which, even ignor- 
ance will not be an apology. The Doctor knows well that the 
appeal which he has made to "authorities of high name" and 
the quotation he has made from the Westminster confession, do 
not teach the sentiment which he is anxious to establish. It is 
an easy matter to pick a sentence from any writing, and in its 
disjoined and separated state, make it express a sentiment the 
very reverse of what the writer meant. Neither the church of 
Scotland nor the Reformed Presbyterian church ever held any 
such doctrine as that contained in the Doctors seventh posi 
tion: although, with great pomp, they are paraded to support 
and sustain it; The quotation from the confession of faith ne- 
ver was understood by the Covenanting church of Scotland, 
either "in her brightest day," or in her darkest, in the sense 
in which it is here used by Dr. McMaster; never was it under- 
stood, nor is it yet understood in this sense by the Reformed 
Presbyterian Church either on this or on the other side of the 
Atlantic. — And we may, very safely, say it never was the de- 
sign of the Westminster Assembly that it should be understood * 
in any such sense. 

It is proper to notice that there is one denomination of Pres- 
byterians who have given the same interpretation to the words 
of the Westminster Divines which is forced upon them by Dr. 
McMaster; and we make him welcome to the full weight of 
their authority : but let him not drag into the controversy the 
authority of others, whose sentiments are well known to have 
been directly opposed to this. The Seceders have, generally, 
adopted this interpretation — and from them, we presume Dr. 
McMaster has borrowed it : but against it Reformed Presby- 
terians have testified and written, both in Scotland and Amer- 
ica. On this subject we find one of the most eminent of the 
Covenanters writing as follows: — " My way is prepared to as- 



id 

Certain arid appfy the meariln^ of the fourth secllon of the ^ii 
chapter of the confession of faith." ^- Inti^Jehty or difference 
in religion, does not make void the niagistrale'b just and legal 
authority, nor free (he (leople from their due obedience to him. 
Their" (the Reformers) principles did not lead them to dis- 
own the deed of magistracy amongst heathens, who had not ilie 
written word to' guide them in so far as it was agreeable to iliu 
moral law^ and where it was a security to the rights of man- 
kind, any more than they were obliged by their principles,' {J 
disown all otlier deeds amongst heathens, in so far as these 
were agreeable to the moral law. To such a case as this the 
litigated passage in the confession applies; and to this inter- 
pretation of it every Dissenter" (Covenanter) can subscribe. 
Neither was this passage without its own proper use) for while 
it made a part of the political system held by the reformers, it 
served as a rule of direction to individual christians In unenlight- 
ened land<^, and to their own people sojourning for a time in 
such lands."* With this the public testimony of the Reform- 
fed Presbyterian Church agreecJ. "It is lawful for clirlslians 
residing i"n nations in which the light of the Gospel has no: 
been generally ditFused, to continue in submission to such au- 
thority as may exist over them, agreeably to the law of nature, 
which, wdiere revelation does not exist, is the only standard of 
civil duty. In such cases the infidelity of the ruler does not 
make void the just authority conferred upon him by the Con- 
stitution."! To this view of the subject Covenanters have^ 
from the period in which the passage was penned, in West- 
ininster, dorwn to the present day, given their consent and ap* 
probation. We leave the reader to form his own estimate of 
both the (oWy and disingenuity of Dr. McMaster's reference to 
'* authorities of high name." 

In concluding the illustrations of his seventh position, the 
Doctor seems anxious that his readers would consider him a 
" decided advocate of moral attributes, as necessary to give va- 
lidity to any constitution of state or national government; and 
farther, that he maintains *' the claims of Messiah upon man In 
his civil and political, as well as in other relations of life ; and 
that, where the Redeemer, by his special revelation, makes 
known his claims, no man or class of men, without incurring 
his displeasure, as Lord of all, can disregard those claims."— 
We are pleased to find so much truth on this subject, come 
from Dr. McMaster : and we think, too, that he has cause of 
being anxious. No man can read the seventh position, and the 
arguments and illustrations by which it is supported, and really 
believe that this quotation formed any pari of the Doctor's 
creed, unless he had been told so by the Doctor himself. But 

• Letter to the Seceders, by the Rev. John McMillon, of StirVmg, p p. 3-i and i6. 
•f Kefurmatiott piinciplvs, chap. 26 — Sect. 5. 



IT 



ihe credit thus gained on the score of orthodoxy, is lost on that 

of consistency. The reader may compare this quotation with 
the position itself, where it is said, that " until a nation make 
it so by its own deed, the recognition of no principle peculiar 
to the Fystem of grace cart be considered as necessary to the 
validity of its actual constitution of government, as a moral or- 
dinance of God." If these are consistent, then there may be a 
government v/hich is the moral ordinance of God; and yet 
those who made it, may incur the "displeasure" of the " Lord 
of all," for disregarding the claims of the fledeemer! If this 
were not the age of paradox, a phiin honest reader might be 
astonished. The claims of the Redeemer disregarded ; and 
yet the constitution in which this is done, is, notwithstanding, 
the moral ordinance of God ! Why ? An honest christian man 
will have some difficulty in believing that so graceless and 
Christless a constitution of government can have any claim 
to be the moral ordinance of God. 

"The man after God's own heart was a Statesman and a 
Captain, as well as a distinguished Saint." True, Doctor, so 
he was; but he acted under a constitution of God's own mak- 
ing, which was not only free from defects, but also perfect. 
The example of David then, can be no warrant in cases where 
the true God and his religion are entirely overlooked, or, if 
noticed at all, placed on the same level with idols and their 
worship. 



LETTER SECOND, 
Contains a " moral estimate of the civil institutions of the 
United States." 

It is hoped that our readers will not understand the strictures 
which shall be made on this and the following letters as aris- 
ing from any dislike to the political institutions of tLo United 
States, as these provide for the peace and happiness of the 
peo{)Ie: And that they do make provision for the exLornal 
welfare of society, on a large and liberal scale, by securing lib- 
erty and political immunities to the citizens, we most readily 
admit. Also, that they provide for these in a way far superior 
to any other existing civil institutions, is cheerfully granted. 
We go farther, and say, that in a mere political point of view, 
they are worthy of the highest encomiums: and all this may be 
allowed without claiming for them political perfection. The 
objections which may be made do not arise from any supposed 
comparative inferiority to other civil institutions. On this 
point we are ready to concede any thing which may be asked 

C 



is 

by their most sanguine admirers. We plead for tbe liberties 
and civil rights of men; we pray that these may be enjoyed in 
their fullest extent, by every man who has not rendered him- 
self incapable and unworthy of enjoying them by his profligacy 
or' his crimes. 

Our objections rest on moral grounds. Something more is 
necessary to give validity to civil institutions and to entitle 
them to the approbation of the christian, than their providing 
for the civil and political rights of men. The claims of the 
Almighty are not to be overlooked; and however well a civil 
constitution and the laws based upon it may provide for the 
former, if the latter are neglected, it is not entitled to the ap- 
probation of the christian; he cannot consistently, and will notj 
if he understands his christian obligation, recognise and identi- 
fy himself with a system in which there are defects in great 
moral points, actual immorality, or the absence of that submis- 
sion which the bible requires to the Mediator. " Be wise, now, 
therefore, O ye Kings, be instructed ye judges of the earth. 
Serve the Lord with fear; kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and 
ye perish from the way, v/hen his wrath is kindled but a 
little."* In every such case, the motto of the christian should 
be "touch not, handle not." The christian should inquire, ^ 
whether a constitution of government, possesses the attributes 
given in the biblcs of God's ordinance of magistracy. If it 
does it is entitled to his acknowledgement as such: if it does 
not, he cannot, consistently with his allegiance to the Prince of 
the kings of the earth, however well it may provide for the 
civil rights of men, associate with it. 

State sovereignty^ the federal character of the general gov- 
ernment,.and the religious character of the Stale Governments 
are the grounds upon which Dr. McMaster maintains that the 
civil institutions of the tJniied States are the moral ordinance 
of God, and claims for them the recognition of Christians. ' 
Let this be borne in mind by the reader, and it will enable him 
to form a correct estimate of the general drift of Dr. McMas- 
ter's reasoning in this and the remaining: letters. By keeping 
this, steadily before him, the reader will be satisfied, after hav- 
ing plodded through the accumulated evidence which the 
Doctor has brought forward, that it does not amount, even to 
probability. If the Doctor has failed, as we have no doubt he 
has, to make good his assertions respecting these distinct fea- 
tures of the civil institutions of the United States, then all his 
reasoning and all his illustrations go for nothing. 

Dr. McMaster judged wisely, that it was unnecessary to ex- 
amine all the State Constitutions; h« therefore limits his ex- 
amination to that of New-YorL 



19 



Respecting the sovereignty claimed in behalf of ihe Stat* 

governments, it is unnecessary to say any thing at present — as 
this will fall under review again, when we come to consider the 
third letter; the greater part of which is taken up in enforcing 
this in relation to the federal government. 

The proposition that the State government of New-York 
"is founded upon the common will" has nothing to do with 
the question at issue. This is a valuable acquisition on the 
part of the people : — But a constitution founded on the com-f 
mon will may yet not be the ordinance of God ; or it may- 
want some of those features which entitle it to the conscien- 
tious obedience of the christian. This, and this alone, is tho 
point to be ascertained in the present inquiry. 

As a higher claim, in behalf of the constitution of Nevr- 
York, than moral, is made by Dr. McMaster, remarks on his 
argument for its morality are uncalled for. We proceed, there- 
fore, to consider the proposition, — '*That is not only a moral 
system, but also a christian government, in actual and volunu* 
ry subjection to Messiah." 

Before we proceed to examine this proposition it may not 
be improper to take a passing glance of the three general 
grounds of which, this is one — and on which, he rests his claim 
for the civil institutions of the United States. 

State sovereignty, the federal character of the general goy- 
ernment, and the religious character of the State governments. 
The essence of Dr, jMcMaster's argument is, that each State is 
a distinct sovereignty, and the genera! government a confede- 
ration of sovereignties ; and therefore, although the general 
gover-nment should not possess all the moral attributes of God's 
ordinance, which he admits it does not, yet, if these are found 
iu the State governments, the institutions of the IJuiied Slates, 
taken as a whole, exemplify God's ordinance of mngistracv ; 
the moral and religious defects of the general government be- 
ing provided for, and supplied by tiie State governments. 
From this it becomes evident that if the Doctor iniU to make 
out any one of his three general grounds of argument, his whole 
defence must prove a complete failure. We solicit tiie read- 
er's patience while we examine, separately, each of the three 
general grounds of defence. We begin with the religious cha- 
racter of the State governments.— Of the State govtH-nment of 
New-York, which has been selected as a narlicuhr exen^plifi- 
cation, the Doctor says, "That is not only' a moral system, but 
also a christian government, in actual and voluntary subjectioiT 
10 the Messiah." 

W^e do not wish to be understood as sayinc, th;it every gor- 
ernment is immoral and inf.del that does not do all that it oui;i)t 
to do in behalf of morality and religion. Absolute perfection 
is not to be found in the constitution and administration of t^ov- 



TO 



ernment, any more than it is to be found in the personal cha^ 
racter and conduct of individuals. And as we would not pro- 
nounce a private individual an infidel, or immoral, because, in 
every respect he did not attain the point of perfection, which 
is unattainable in this present imperfect state, neither would we 
pronounce a civil community an infidel government, because 
it had not attained perfection. But there is a minimum of cha- 
racter indispensably necessary to the title of christian, in the 
community, as well as in the individual; and if this luinimum 
is wanting;, there is no rightful claim to the title of christian, 
either by the individual or the community; and broad is the 
line of demarkation between even this jninimum of character, 
and that which leaves the individual, or the community under 
the stigma of infidelity. Whatever difficulty there may be in 
ascertaining the christian and moral character of an individual, 
there can be little in ascertaining that of a community. If the 
former can conceal his real character under the cover of private 
life, the latter cannot: the character of a community is marked 
by its constitution and laws, and developed and applied by 
their actual administration. The knowledge of these is with- 
in the reach of every inquirer. Here it is necessary to ascer- 
tain what attributes are required to the formation of "a chris- 
tian government in actual subjection to Messiah." It is not 
enough that the constitution and laws of a government admit 
and take notice of the existence of Christianity : this could not 
be avoided, however infidel a government might be, when it 
has within its jurisdiction a vast number of individuals who 
profess the christian religion. Doubtless the government of 
Babylon took notice of the religion of the Jews, and even 
made laws respecting them and their religion. They not 
only tolerated them in its exercise ; they also afforded them 
facilities, and granted them pecuniary support that they might 
enjoy it. And the Babylonian government did all this volun- 
tarily ; yet no man, in his senses, will say that the Babylonian 
government was the moral ordinance of God, and in actual and 
voluntary subjection to Messiah. In a country where the light 
of the gospel is revealed, and many of its professors live, the 
government may make laws that may be exceedingly benefi- 
cial to the disciples of Jesus Christ, and very useful in promo- 
ting his religion; — but the government in its constitution and 
administration, may, so far from being a christian government, 
be in a state of actual rebellion against Messiah. The laws 
which promote the interests of Christianity may have no special 
regard to either Messiah or his authority; they may be the ef- 
fect of mere worldly policy, w^ithout being sanctified by one 
solitary christian motive. The certainty of this will be evi- 
dent, if the same laws and principles which subserve the inter- 
ests of Christianity, subserve the interests of false religion, in 



-all its varieties. Not a doubt can remain, if these laws not on- 
ly subserve the interests of false religion, but were in their 
formation intended to embrace the votaries of every religion 
that were within their geographical limits as well as the wor- 
shippers of tlie true God. If the laws which benefit the pro- 
fessors of the christian religion and help the cause of the Ijord 
Jesus Christ, were intended to embrace, and do actually fos- 
ter the religious interests of Popish anti-christianism, dripping, 
as it is, witl) the blood of the martyred witnesses of Jesus who 
have been slain, because of their testimony for truth, and the 
Socinian, who robs the author of the christian religion of his 
divinity, and rejects the oracles of God whenever it may suit 
his purpose : — if these, and a whole host of others equally op- 
posed to the religion of Jesus Christ, as he has instituted it in 
the simplicity of the gospel, find the same protection and coun- 
tenance in their anti-christian and blasphemous religious ser- 
vices as the disciples of Jesus do, who serve him in spirit and 
in truth, tlie government is not christian. Instead of being in 
subjection to iMessiah, it has declared hostilities against Him, 
by furthering the interests of his avowed enemies! 

In a country where christians are numerous, however infidel 
the government may be, it cannot legislate and act as if Chris- 
tianity did not exist within its boundaries; unl^iss it has resolv- 
ed to raise the arm of persecution, and wage a perpetual war of 
extermination against it. Christianity may indirectly influ- 
ence the opinions and actings of even infidel legislators and 
rulers. This indirect influence of Christianity over infidels, 
whether in the shape of public sentiment, or of particular hab- 
its, acquired by associating with christians, and, perhaps, re- 
ceiving moral instruction from them, will manifest itself in the 
laws and practises of the government. And all this may not 
only exist, but does really exist in particular instances, without 
the slightest intention on the part of legislators and rulers, to do 
homage to the Lord Jesus Christ, What claim, then, can be 
offered in behalf of such a government, of its being in subjec- 
tion to Messiah, while it has no thought of Him, or regard to 
His authority 

That a government may be christian and in subjection to 
Messiah, its constitution and laws must be founded upon the 
great moral principles of his revealed law— the Bible. It is to 
be acknowledged as the fountain from which they flow. 27w.9 
is the rule by which all actsof constitution and legislation should 
be formed To the law, and to the testimony : if they speak 
not according to this word, it is because there is no light in 
them."* 

Another feature of a government that is in subjection to 
Messiah, is, a recognition and acknowledgement of God, and 

* bkiah, 8,-20. 



22 



also of the Mediator, in his exalted character, Priruje of th©. 
Kings of the earth ; and a professed submisbion to his authori-^ 
ty. By this, is the motive and intention to be regulated. 

Lastly, the glory of God is to be sought as the end of gov- 
ernment. No christian will refuse the application of this prin- 
ciple to himself personally ; and whatever is obligatory upon 
the private individual, is equally obligatory upon a community,i 
which is only a collection of individuals. "Whether, theie- 
fore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all lo the glory 
of God."* 

Whatever government is not professedly based on the great 
moral principles of the Bible ;f professedly subject to God and 
his Son, the exalted Redeemer, and so constituted as to pro- 
mote the glory of the Most High, is not in subjection to Messiah. 

Keeping in view the preceding observations and principles, 
the reader may form his opinion of the religious character of 
the State of New-York. And forming his opinion deliberate- 
ly, and apart from political prejudice, we have little doubt what 
that opinion shall be. The man who has the fear of God be- 
fore his eyes, and who is more anxious to honor his Redeemer 
than please men or obtain worldly favor, will hesitate before he 
assents to the proposition, that the government of the Slate of 
fi"ew-York or any other government in the Union, is " in actu- 
al and voluntary subjection lo Messiah.*^ Nor will the reasons 
given by Dr. McMaster convince one honest man, or satisfy one 
who comes to the inquiry, unless he comes with the pre-deter-t 
mination of believing, independently of evidence. It is difii* 
cult lo examine, and more difficult lo refute the observations 
which the Doctor has made on this part of his subject. — Indeed, 
it is almost impossible; not because the evidence produced is 
unanswerable — but because there is scarcely any tiling to an- 
swer: there is nothing with which an opponent can grapple, 
and take hold of. There is, indeed, a great show of argument j 
but when the various items of irrelevancy, assumption and 
mis-statements are deducted, nothing reinains that will beai: 
examination. But the reader may judge for himself. 

• I. Cor. 10.— .SI. 

■j-'l his is not to he confounded with making the bible a part and parcel of the law 
of the land. The bible roay be made a i)artof lite common law, and the government 
not based on the great moral principles of the bible, bnt in direct opposition lolbem. 
In many anli-cbrislian countries, the christian religion is a p:nl of tlie common law : 
«nd yet these governments are in a state of rebellion against the Lord and his anointed. 
This is a snfiicient answer to the argument drawn from Judge Spencer's opininn, — 
*• That tlie christian religion is a part of the law of the land." The ground on which 
.lodge Spencer gives this opinion is, that the christian religion is a part of the common 
law of England; and that this is still the common law of the Stale of New-Vork, ex- 
cept in ihcsp particular instances in which it has been repeale<l. l?ut, if [U\b prove* 
that the State of New-York is a christian povernment, in subjeclion to Messiah, as 
Dr. Mc Master would have us believe, then old Kngland, with all her anli-cliristianism, 

in snljjectioji to Messiah ; aliliough we dare say that the Doctor siill holds that she 
" is a h'lrn of the Beast." Our reatlers A'iil observe, that as the argument, if it were 
ftdopted, would prove loo much; iherefoje, by a well known rule of reasoning, it 
proves nothing. 



^•1. The Constitution confesses God and his gracious prov- 
idence." Were the government of New-York charged with 
beinsi atheistical, an acknowledgment of God and his provi- 
dence would be a complete exculpation. But the Doctor's 
proposition is, that it is '*a christian government, in actual and 
voluntary subjection to Messiah." An acknowledgment of the 
existence of God is compatible whh the bitterest infidelity and 
opposition to the christian religion. The disciples of Thomas 
Paine would go as far as this; and the followers of the impos- 
ter, r^fahomet, recognize the existence and providence of God. 
Will the Doctor plead that the disciples of Paine, and the liege 
followers of the false prophet, are " in actual and voluntary 
subjection to Messiah .f* If not, his argument is useless; it is 
irrelevant. 

"2. While it secures liberty of worship, it declares against 
licentiousness." Let Dr. McMaster answer this argument 
himself. We give his own account of this part of the consti- 
tution; because we are satisfied, that in the passage to which 
we refer, he has stated the truth: — And if so, by using the ar- 
gument now under examination, the Dr. has sinned against his 
Own conscience: for he has made a statement, which, if we 
may believe his own former account of the business, he him- 
self does not credit. "The man who profanes the name of 
any person in the Trinity in common life, will be punished ; 
but if, under the pretext of religious principle, he blaspheme 
the character of Jesus and profane the oracles of heaven, by 
attempting to make them prove the Saviour no more than 
a mortal man, he passes not only without censure, but has a 
right guaranteed to do so!"* W^e could mention a govern- 
ment, which Dr. McMaster will be ready to say is a horn of 
the anti-christian beast, which goes farther than the State of 
New-York in punishing this kind of licentiousness : for it will 
not admit the plea of religious sentiment as a vindication of 
blasphemy. Is the Doctor prepared to say that punishing an 
act of licentiousness which would be punished by an anti-chris- 
lian government, and under which no room is left for evasion — 
is he, we ask, prepared to say that this is a proof of being "in 
actual and voluntary subjection to Messiah.^" 

," 3. It prohibits the granting of lottery laws and other games 
of chance." 

" 4. Slavery is abolished in the State, and can never again 
be authorized." 

" 5. Tens of thousands of the State Treasury are devoted 
annually, to the promotion of useful knowledge, in the support 
of primary schools and higher institutions of literature. 

We take these three arguments together, because one answer 
meets and repels the whole. Had the constitution of New- 

• Duty of naiions, by the Rev. Gilbert McMaster, p. -il. 



«4 

York been charged with being utterly destitute o( any moraf 
attributes, these things would be a refutation of the charge. 
But the proposition to be proved is, that it is "a christian gov- 
ernment in actual and voluntary subjection to ^Messiah," while 
the proof adduced only proves that it has some moral attrib- 
utes; and we have no conception how a government could 
hang together for a single year, if it were destitute of all moral 
character. We have no reason to think that any such govern- 
ment ever existed or could exist! 

"6. The christian sabbath is acknowledged in the code of 
public law, and provision is made to guard its sanctity." This 
is the only thing yet adduced that has the semblance of an ar- 
gument; for it is only the semblance. It will not stand tho 
scrutiny of any sense except that of sight! Like a shadow, if 
you attempt to grasp it, lo ! it is gone. We ask Dr. McMaster 
if, when he penned this argument, he put any confidence in i^ 
himself.'* Does he seriously think that those who made the 
laws respecting the Sabbath, had any regard, in doing so, to tlit^ 
command of God — Remember the Sabbath, and keep it 
holy.'^" If he does, few will think with him; and it is not 
witliout reason, we say, that those who made these laws would 
not thank him for his interpretation of their motives. Apart 
from the intention of the legislator, which is, unquestionably, a 
matter of essential importance, there is another principle which 
we have more than once applied, and which will place the sub- 
ject in its true light. If the fact, that the christian Sabbath is 
acknowledged by the laws of a country, be proof that it is " io^ 
actual and voluntary subjection to Messiah,'' then several oi' 
the anti-christian governments of Europe have the same claim ;^ 
nay, a stronger claim for the laws respecting the Sabbath, are 
by some of them, more rigidly and faithfully administered. 

It is not possible in the State of New-York, or in any other 
State, where a great proportion of the citizens make a profes- 
sion of Christianity, to make laws without having some respect 
to the religious feelings and habits of these citizens; public 
sentiment would not bear it ; and no man needs to be told 
that there is a wide difference between making laws from a re- 
gard to public seniiment only, and making them from a regard 
to the authority of God. The former is a matter of mere pol- 
icy and expediency; the latter is really n)oral, and an act of 
subjection to the Lord of the Sabbath, and of the conscience! 

" 7. The infidel is rejected by her courts as incompetent to 
give testimony." Were this true, we do not ihink that it would 
be relevant evidence to the truth of the fact for which it is pro- 
duced — " actual and voluntary subjection to I\Iessiah." But 
we are under the painful necessity of contradicting the state- 
ment. It has not the slightest foundation. An infidel — that is, 
one who disbelieves the holy scriptures and refuses his assent 



S5 

10 the truth of the christian religion is not rejected^ as incom 
potent to give testimony/' His testimony is as valid in law 
as that of the Rev. Doctor himself; and he is as competent 
to he qualified as a witness. His testimony could not he re- 
jected, were he to avow his infidelity in open court. The lavT 
of evidence on this point is explicit, — "Every person believ- 
ing in the existence of a Supreme Being who will punish falso 
swearing, shall be admitted to be sworn, if otherwise compe- 
tent."* According to this law every person who acknowl- 
edges the being of God ; every one who is not an Atheist, "shall 
be admiited to be sworn." And so wide is the law, that even an 
Atheist may be admitted as evidence, unless it can be proved 
that he is an Alheist.f The law expressly provides, that a 
witness cannot be examined on the subjectof his religiousbelief. 

Although the statement is untrue, and therefore must be 
contradicted, we have no wish to be understood as saying 
that Dr. McMaster has knowingly declared a falsehood; he 
may have erred involuntarily, by speaking on a subject with 
which he had not taken the trouble to inform himself. But 
whether intentional or otherwise, it shows how unsafe a guide 
Dr. McMaster is; and how little reliance can be placed on hij 
broad assertion of assumed fact, and how mistaken his conclu- 
sions are likely to be. 

"8. The ministers of the gospel are recognized as an order 
of men devoted to the spiritual interests of their flocks; and 
that they may not be diverted from their appropriate labors, 
are exempted from various civil exactions." 

"9. Ecclesiastical property is secured by special statutes ; 
and in some cases, Ecclesiastical oHicers are recognized by 
law, as vested with the power of trustees." We take these 
two together, for they really belong to the same category. Has 
the Socinian, who denies the Divinity of the author of the 
christian religion ; the idolatrous and jesuitical Papist, who has 
heathenized it; and the Hicksite Quaker, whose religion is but 
another name for infidelity, access to these same privileges, in 
common with christian ministers and congregations. Then let 
not the enjoyment of these privileges be considered as a proof, 
that the government "is in actual and voluntary subjection to 
Messiah." Is it a proof of doing honor to a king, and submit- 
ting to his authority, to show the same respect, and give the 
same privileges to his enemies as to his subjects? If not, we 
again say, that tliere is still no evidence of " subjection to 
Messiah." "In the United States all have an establishment, 
as well the believer in and worshipper of the Virgin Mary, as 
the worshipper of Jesus. "J 

* Uevised Suunles of Uie State of Xew-York — Kxaniinalion of Witnesses. 

j The present Chaneellor, on tlie anlliority: of some old writers on i'^nglish law, has 
expressed sjme doubts vvhetber even disbelief in a Supi^me Ueing would disqualify a 
witness. 

tThe Dutv of Nations, hv iha Ilcv. Gilbert McMaster, p. 58. 

D 



" 10. By the solemn decision of her Supreme Court, the 
christian religion is declared to he the religion of the State; 
and that the hlasphemer of Christianity, or of its author, is 
punishahle hy law." This is another case of irrelevancy. It 
is the constitution of the State of New-York that is the subject 
of inquiry; .yet the Doctor, in this case, has drawn his argu- 
ment from the administration of the laws. But we will allow 
him the advantage of an argument taken from the administra- 
tion of the laws. We will admit what still remains to be 
proved* — that Christianity is a part of the law of the State, and 
that blasphemy is punishable by law; and with all this admis- 
sion, will it amount to a proof that the government is " in actual 
subjection to Messiah" ? It ought to be kept in mind, that the 
reason why it is said that Christianity is the religion of the 
State, is because of her former connexion with the mother 
country. In England Christianity " is ))art and parcel" of the 
law of the land. The original common law still continues to 
be law in the State, except in such particular cases as it has 
been repealed. Few Covenaters will believe that the mother 
country is " in actual and voluntary subjection to Messiah." 
But if it is true in the one case, it must be true also in the other: 
it is unreasonable to suppose that the same national feature in 
the one country, would not entitle it to the same religious cha- 
racter as in the other; and more particularly when, as in this 
case, it is derived from the one to the other. But enough has 
been said to show that the argument is irrelevant and inap- 
plicable. 

The following proposition, supported by a number of distinct 
particulars, is also employed by Dr. McMaster, to prove the 
religious and moral character of the State government of New- 
York. 

"The most devout and conscientious christians, voluntarily 
and without hesitation, maintain communion with the govern- 
ment in its official acts." Without examining the particular 
specifications, we answer generally: — First, that in none of 
the particulars stated, is there any acknowledgment of the, 
constitution asked or given — there is no pledge or homologa- 
tion of its being an exemplification of scriptural magistracy, 
given directly or indirectly. The oath of a witness, or, oaths 
that may be given to ascertain the validity of testamentary 
deeds, are not, in themselves, acts of communion with the ad- 
ministration. An oath is an act of religious homage to God. 
An appeal, also, to Him of the truth of what is giyen in testi- 
mony, and an expression of belief that Cod will punish false 

•While we admire the christian feelini^ of Cliancellor Kent ami .liulge Spencer, in 
declaring bUisitliciny to be i)U:iisliaL»le at law , it is questionable if the beneli had been 
occupied by some other Judges, whether the same t xpositiun would have been made 
or tlie law. 



3T 



swearing.^* In the second place, if swearing, in the cases spe- 
cified, were an acknowledgment of the constitution, even in 
that case, there would not be any evidence of its moral and re- 
ligious character. Because good men hold communion with 
civil constitutions it does not follow that they are good. Such 
an act of communion imparts no moral character to them, but 
it may be an act of immorality on the part of the individual 
who does it. Good men often do sinful things ; but their ex- 
ample is not to be imitated. The rule of action is not the ex- 
ample of even the best of men. The word of God alone is 
our rule. 

In the preceding observations reference has been made in 
several instances to the government of England, for the pur- 
pose of repelling Dr. McMaster's argument, by showing that 
if his argument were valid in respect to the institutions of the 
United States, it must be equally valid in respect to the former. 
In reply to this reasoning, it may, perhaps, be said, that in the 
government of England, although the christian religion is part 
of the law of the land, there are, also, other features in that 
government which make it anti-christian. This is the precise 
point from which we wish the argument to be seen. If the 
fact of acknowledging the christian religion, and making laws 
in favor of it and its ministers, be not, in itself, conclusive evi- 
dence of "subjection to Messiah" — if these may be counter- 
acted by other things in the constitution, so as to make that of 
England anti-christian, will not the same thing hold e;ood in the 
United States? Granting that in New-York, tlie christian re- 
ligion is part of the law of the land, may there not be other fea- 
tures which neutralize this? This is the view in which the 
subject ought to be considered. 

Our object has been to show that the civil institutions of the 
United States cannot have the conscientious approbation of the 
witnesses of Jesus, because they contain no reco2;nition of his 
authority as Prince of the Kings of the earth, and do not ex- 
emplify that magistracy which is the ordinance of God. We 
shall not say that they are satanic in their origin ; although 
Dr. McMaster insinuates that it has been said. We are not 
aware that this has ever been made a part of the creed of any 
Covenanter : But we say—for we know, that it has been be- 
lieved and acted upon by Covenanters, tiiat the Government 
of the United States is not "in subjection to Messiah," and 
does not possess the character which gives a government a 
claim upon the conscience of a christian. Perhaps Dr. Mc- 
Master may refer to the following picture which has been «-iv- 
en ; which, if true, would warrant the assertion, that at lea<;t 

* L^t it be p' rfecUy undersloosl thai the oat!i is an 9ct of iiomajrt, peifnrmed toI 
ununly.to Uie.'S.iiMtme Bei.i<>— and l)y no means, a reeo-nihon oV the maffistratr's 
atiihonty, or an ;.ct communion wiili 1,im in his official cupaeiiv "— Uefomiatlr... 
priaciplei, historical part, p. p. ISS and ' ' ^'«^"ai^o« 



ihc government has not its origin in the revealed will of Ooii; 
and ihiit it is any thing bnt " in subjection to iMessiah/' 
When \ve hear nations proclaim, that the system of grace, and 
the iilolatrous, superstition of anti-christian deUision shall ob- 
tain from them the same regaril, what is the conclusion of 
candor itself? Can it he esteemed any less than a ileliance of 
the wrath of Him who has solemnly deelareil, the nation and 
kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish--yea, these na- 
tions shall be utterly wasted."* 

The view which we have taken of the subject does not ninko 
it necessary that we believe that the government has its origin 
from tlie " Dragon." All that is maintained is that it iloes 
not possess the moral and religious attributes which a govern- 
ment ought to possess; that in its formation it has not been 
constituted according to the revealed will of dod — and that 
therefore, it has not a claim upon tlie chrisiian as the ordinance 
of Cod; and bearing the character that it does, the christian 
should do no act that may imply approbation. f It is the iluty 
of christians, for the sake of peace and oriler, to conform to 
the common regulations of society, in things lawful ; but, lo 
]>rofess allegiance to no constitution of government which is in 
hostility to the kingdom of Christ, the Lord of the Church, and 
the Prince of the kings of the earth. "J 

Vpon a minute examination of the argunients of Dr. IMc- 
INlaster, the reader will be satisfied that lie has failed to prove 
that the government is " in subjection to ^lessiuh." And, if 
this is the case with respect to New-York, the character of 
^vhich, is one of the best in the Union, how great must the fail- 
ure be, with respect to some other Slates whcie there are not 
the same pretensions? 



LETTER THIRD. 

We come now to the examination of letter third. This let- 
ter is em[)loyed in explaining fully the writer's views on the 
second and third of his three general grounds of defence — 
iSlate sovereignty, and the federal charactor of the government 
of the Cnion. These are argued in connexion. If the one is 
proved, the truth of the other necessarily follows. AVe deem 

* Mi N'.Listt r's Diny of XaliMiis, p. 1;!. Spt^akini;- of M;ivory in llio l'..itOvl Stnles, 
llicDovtiu- ubks '*Uo iiui ^uxv-nimoms, in Uaiis.ikiioiis like Uils, mojv »\>ciui»le a 
batuliui t'f it>bl>oi'S, limn proti tioi s ot' iuiutccniv ami iiuanliaiis i»t liglit — Diuy Nu- 
lioitb, |>. 1'.). llastUc biuiiliui nt' l obbors its on|;in v itii i.ml or iVoni SalHii ? 

■{■" Mas- lun a civil pi^i-rnuu nt, uliicli lia-! nol jiciKctt il all Us cla'auslo k' iho nitii 
nance of (Wh!, be >.i> oiicumboivd \mi1i saiful U'l'ii s » f ». i iiiuiui)ion as I • ^im' jtisi occa- 
sion lo slanil al a ilislanco fi"om it, anil uul to minj^lo w ilii ils siiJUKn U is in lliv.- iiianaj,t - 
iiuMit of its atrairs.'* — MuMaslci's i^uty of Nations, [i. 4G. 

i liefoi'iualioa l*riuclplcs, Chai)- -0 — Sec. C. 



S9 

it neither called for nor desirable to follow the Doctor in all bis 
observations on this pnrt of the subject. A few general re- 
niarks will suffice to point out the fallacy of the various argu- 
ments urged in this letter. It may be here noticed, that while 
most of the facts which Dr. McM aster makes the basis of his 
argument are true, they do not prove the point for which they 
are used. Words are susceptible of different significations : — 
that, therefore, which may be a solid argument when the words 
are used in one sense, may have neither strength nor applica- 
bility, when used in another; and yet these words, as far as 
they nierely meet the eye of the reader, are precisely the 
' same. No kind of sopliistry is more successful, because none 
is more difficult to be detected and exposed, than that in which 
words are used in one sense in the statement of an argument, 
and in a different sense in the proof and illustration. It re- 
quires more than ordinary attention to seize the precise point 
of the discussion in which the writer changes the meaning of 
his terms, while, apparently, he continues to use them in the 
same sense in which they had been used in the statement of the 
proposition. We apply this to the reasoning of Dr. McMaster. 
In his several arguments he asserts, that the States are sove- 
reign and independent. This is true in one sense; and there- 
fore, we assent to it as a general proposition ; but it is not true 
in that sense in which it is designed to be understood in the 
conclusion of the argument: — Here, therefore, we refuse to ad- 
mit it as true. The doctrine of State sovereignty is admitted ; 
but not in that sense which would be available to the Doctor's 
argument. In this admitted sense, the Slates are sovereign; 
but this is not the sense in which Dr. McMaster wishes to be 
understood in his conclusion. The word sovereign is a rela- 
tive term, and does not in itself imply national sovereignty, nor 
even national existence. The superiority and independence 
which it necessarily includes, must be determined by the sub- 
ject on which it is predicated. One government may be sove- 
reign with respect to another government; and yet not possess 
even a national character, far less national sovereignty. Eve- 
ry individual, every family, and every city, in this relative 
sense, is a sovereign; they are sovereign in relation to other 
individuals, families, and cities. 

In the social compact, neither individuals, families, nor ci- 
ties give up the whole right of legislation and government in- 
to the hands of the national government, of which they are parts. 
Individuals, on entering into the national compact, yield part of 
their natural rights; but they retain a large portion which 
they do not delegate to the superior civil powers. Each one 
throws in a small portion of his natural rights into a common 
stock: and all this taken together, constitutes the national au- 
thority, which in a well regulated government is employed for 



30 



the seneral welfare — the greatest good of the whole. It is for 
the better security and enjoyment of that which is retained, 
that part is yielded to a general superintendence of the whole 
community. In all cases of individual right, not delegated to 
the public magistrate, he may not interfere: the moment he 
does so, government becomes oppressive, and the ruler a ty- 
rant. In this view of the subject there appears a kind of per- 
sonal and individual sovereignty, which every citizen retains to 
himself. Each individual is sovereign in relation to other in- 
dividuals, but he is not sovereign in relation to the government 
to which he has delegated a part of his right of self-govern- 
ment. The same reasoning is apphcable to families: they 
too, are governments possessed of relative sovereignty: each 
is sovereign and independent in relation to others, it is, also, 
equally applicable to cities : each has its own municipal right 
of rule, and within this limited sphere other cities may not in- 
tj-uJe. — They are sovereign in relation to one another. 

In this relative sense, the States which constitute the Union 
are soverei^^n. In relation to one another, they are equal : 
one State has no right of rule or control over another: one 
cannot prescribe laws to, or command another to obey. Thus, 
they are free, sovereign, and independent States. But, as in- 
dividuals have given up to society, a share of their natural 
rights, that they might be secured in the possession of the re- 
mainder; so the Siatrs severally, have, by compact, agreed to 
give up part of their governmental rights; and the power thus 
yielded by the several States, is vested in a more general gov- 
ernment, which possesses all the higher attributes of sovereign- 
ty. While tbe States have each a relative sovereignty, they 
are subordinate to tbe general government, which has all the 
proper features of a national government. The simple fact, 
that there is a superior and more general power than tbat pos- 
sessed by the States severally, renders the aj)plIcation of the 
term sovereigntv in this latter sense, incongruous and allogrthor 
inapplicable to them. In its relative sense, we admit State 
sovereignly; but we refuse it in the other. In the former 
sense, it makes nothing for Dr. McMaster's argument; in the 
latter, in which sense alone it could avail him any thing, it is 
not true. It is an assumption which is contradicted by the 
existence of a more enlarged and superior government. 

The States, then, are sovereign States, but not nations. — 
They bavCj voluntarily, delegated to tl^e government of the 
Union, many of tlu? powers winch constitute a national charac- 
ter. — I'hey are, of course, sovereign only with respect to those 
residuary powers which tbey have not delegated. Nor does 
any wise statesman ever pretend to say that the States are so 
manv nations. They indeed say what we have admitted, that 
the Stales possess a residuary sovereignty: but this is alJ. 



31 



The opinion is held by none, but such at are under the influ- 
ence of the political heresy of nullification, and such as are 
tainted with anotlier heresy equally obnoxious — that of trying 
to corrupt the principles and practices of the Reformed Pres- 
byterian Church. 

Who ever heard of the nation of Rhode-Island? or of the 
nation of Delaware? Not even Dr. McMaster would venture 
his reputation before the public, by such an abuse of language. 
He knows no one would give hinl credit for sincerity, if he did. 
On the other hand, be it remembered, that the name nation is 
every day given to all the States considered as one whole — 
the American nation and the term national, bestowed on what- 
ever belongs to it. National interest, national prosperity, are 
examples of this appropriation of the term. 

Were each of the States a proper national sovereignty, then 
we would have "the political monster of an imperium in im- 
peiio or a nation within a nation ! the existence of which is prac- 
ticably impossible. "It is obviously impracticable in the fed- 
eral government of these J)tates, to secure all right of inde- 
pendent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest 
and safety of all."* 

The federal character of the government of the Union forms 
the third and last of the general grounds on which Dr MciMas- 
ter rests his argument for the civil institutions of the United 
States. To the term federal, as descriptive of the government 
of the Union, there is no objection. It is expressive and ap- 
propriate. But we do object to the use which Dr. MciMaster 
makes of it. It is used b}- him, as expressive of a league or 
mere alliance. With him, the general government is a mere 
league between sovereign powers. The reader might suppose 
thai it had no concern with individuals, as such, nor with the 
internal affairs of the States, did he form his opinion from the 
statement of Dr. McMaster, that " as regards foreign Slates, 
it presents a national front." If it presents only " a national 
front to foreign States," we would like to know what attributes, 
in the opinion of Dr. McMaster, constitute a national govern- 
ment. 

The great distinction between a league and a government is, 
that the former is a mere agreement to act in concert on certain 
specified points, without any discretionary power or right of 
legislation ; the latter is a compact, based on specified prima- 
ry principles, and delegating, according to these, a discretion- 
ary power, and a right to legislate. The govern mem of the 
Union possesses these features, which distinguish a govern- 
ment from a league. 

The government of the Union has by constitutional compact 
all the elements of a proper national government — a Legisla- 

• Letter from the Convention wl)ich ftamcil the Federal L'onsUtulion, to ihe Presi- 
dent of Congreii. 



32 



ture, a Judiclnry, and an Executive. The Constitution invests 
the government vvitli discretionary ])0wers, and confers upon 
it the right of legislation.* The government acts with foreign 
powers, not as the agent of the Slates, biitas a national power; 
and as such it is recognized and known by other nations. It 
legislates not for States, but for iridividuals^ and its legis- 
lation extends to some of the mlni.test affairs of internal econ- 
omy.f The house of Representatives in Congress is not ap- 
pointed by States : its members are elected by the choice of 
the citizens acting individually. These show that the govern- 
ment of the Union is not a mere league of sovereignties, but a 
proper national government: and this is corroborated by the 
following extracts from the writings of one whose means of 
knowing the proper character of the general government, and 
whose capacity of judging correctly, will not be called in ques- 
tion. "While they" (the adversaries of the present constitu- 
tion) "admit that the government of the United States is des- 
titute of energy, they contend against conferring upon it those 
powers which are requisite to supply that energy. They 
seem still to aim at things repugnant and irreconcilable; at an 
augmentation of federal authority; at soverlgnty in the Union, 
and complete indei)pndence in the members. They seem still 
to cherisli with blind devotion the political monster of an impe- 
r'lum in imperio. The great and radical vice in the constitu- 
tion of the existing confederation, is in the principle of legisla- 
ting for States or Governments in their corporate or collective 
capacities, and as contra-distinguished from the individuals of 
whom they consist. It is a singular instance of the capricfous- 
iiess of the human mind, that after all the aidmonitions we have 
had from experience on this head, there should still be found 
men who object to the new constitution, for deviating from a 
principle which has been found the bane of the old; and what 
is, in itself, evidently incompatible with the idea of a govern- 
ment; a principle in short, which, if it is to be executed at all, 
must substitute the violent and sanguinary agency of the sword 
for the mild inlluence of the magistracy. There is nothing 
absurd or impracticable in the idea of a league or alliance be- 
tween independent nations for certain defined purposes, pre- 
cisely stated in the treaty ; regulating all the details of time, 
place, circumstances and quantity ; leaving nothing to future 
discretion ; and depending for its execution on the good laith 
of the parties. If the particular States in this country are dis- 

* "To make all laws which shall be necessnrv and proper for carrying inlo t-xecii- 
tion ihe loiesoiiig powers, and all other powers vt sied by tliis Consliluiioii in ihe t;ov- 
ernment ot'lii-' Unitid Stales, or in any deparliaent, or ollicer Uicreol." — Arlicle I. 
Sec. 8, of Uic Co.isliiulion of Uie U. b. 

jln the powers conferred on Congress, there are seventeen distinct specifications; 
sixteen of these refer to the internal economy of the States and iheir citizens i)t rs<m- 
allv conaidered. And only 07ii' rei;iies to foreign concerns! Is this like pitseniing 
oitiy a national front to foreign Stales? 



as 

jjdsed lo Stanci in a similar relation lo each other and drop the 
projector a general discretionary siiperintendmce, the srhcme 
would indeed, be pernicious, and would entail upon us ail 
the mischiefs which have been enumerated under the first 
head. But, if we are unwiilins'; to be placed in tiiis perilous 
situation ; if we still adhere to the design of a nation.. I govern- 
ment, or what is the same thing, of a superintending power, un- 
der the direction of a common council, we must resolve to in- 
corporate into our plan those ingredients \yhich may be consi- 
dered as forming the characteristic difference bet\veen a league 
and 'd government ; we must extend the authority of the Union 
to the persons of the citizens— the only proper objects o( gov- 

It is now obvicur; that T)t. Mci\Ttaster's defence is unten-. ble. 
His views respecting the religious character of the State con- 
stitutions, of State Sovereignty, and of the federal character of 
llie government of the Union, have not been proved. We have 
ascertained by a minute SMamin.aiion of the constitution of 
New-York, which is one of the best of the State constitutions, 
that it is not in subjection to Messiah. That his claim in its 
behalf is a gratuitous assumption, without even a shadow of ev- 
idence. All the proof adduced, proving only, that it possesses 
Some moral attributes: a position which has never been called 
hi question. Were the Doctor's political views respecting State 
sovereignty correct, still his plea would be unavailing, because, 
as has been shown, there is not in the state governments that 
Subjection to Messiah which the word of God demands. There 
is not in the parts, that which can supply the deBciency of the 
whole. The weakness of the plea becomes still greater when 
it is considered, that the Doctor's political views of the State 
and federal governments are not correct. That whatever re- 
siduary sovereignty may have been retained by the States, yet 
the federal government is not a league of sovereignties; but a 
proper government, possessed of discretionary power, within 
its own coiislitulional limits. 

As a civil government, it ought to possess a religious cha- 
racter; and a professed subjection to Messiah. — These it does 
not possess. "God is not acknowledged by the Constitution. 
The federal government is erected for the general good of the 
United Stales, and especially for the management of their for- 
eign concern^^; but no association of men for moral purposes 
can be justified in an entire neglect of the sovereign of the 
world. No consideration will justify the framers of the fede- 
ral constitution and the administration of the government, in 
withholding a recognition of the Lord and his anointed from 
the grand charter of the nation."]- But it is unnecessary to 
urge proof on a subject which is conceded by Dr. McMaster. 

* Mr. Hamilton,— Fedei alist, No. 15. 

t S«raaon8 oa the laU war, tj Dr. McLeotl, p. p. 34, 35. 

E 



lie admits that " the federal Union presents but few features 

of God's ordinance of civil magistracy; and it is defective in 
provisions of the first necessity." That the Slate govern- 
ments do not supply these defects has already been demonstra- 
ted. And if they did possess a religious character, such as a 
christian ought to approve of, this would furnish no reason why 
he should pledge himself by an oath of allegiance to the whole 
system.* 

A constitution which confessedly makes no mention of Mes- 
siah — no recognition of his authority, directly nor indirectly — • 
takes no notice of his religion — pays no regard to his law — ► 
that does not even recognize the being of God, is certainly not 
entitled to the approbation of christians. How can a christian 
acknowledge a constitution to be the ordinance of God, which 
does not even deign to acknowledge his being .'^ How can a 
christian conscientiously identify himself with a constitution by 
an oath of allegiance to it, or by acting under it, when it does not 
acknowledge the claims of his Redeemer — the Prince of the 
kings of the earth? If the christian says a confederacy with those 
with whom God has said, do not say a confederacy, he becomes 
a partaker of their sins, and shall, in the righteous retribution of 
Messiah's providence, become a partaker in their plagues* 
The Lord, the Redeemer, will visit his faults with rods and 
Vritb chastisements. "Kiss ye the Son, lest he be angry." 



LETTER FOURTH. 

In his fourth letter Dr. McMaster answers objections against 
the federal deed. These he says " may be reduced to three 
general heads : the violation of the principle of fair representa- 
tion ; the establishment and support of slavery; and its irreli- 
gious character." Of the answer which has been given to the 
last of these it is not necessary, now, to say any thing, after the 
remarks which have already been made. The f.rst we leave 
to the statesman and politician, and hasten to examine the an- 
swers to the objection on the ground of slavery. 

The observations which the Doctor makes on slavery arc 
really an apology for its abettors. Slavery exists; this cannot 
be denfed. Upwards of two millions of human beings unright- 
eously held in bondage, are so many living proofs of its dis- 
graceful existence in this land of freemen! After making some 
specious remarks on the evils of slavery, the Doctor shifts the 
blame from the United States, and throws it on the mother 

• By the oath of allegiance the citizen »we*ri Vo sup?a t th» erwstittitm of iheSt«t« 
Ir ■wh'Sth h« t», «Q<1 the U. S. cfouintutroe. 



country. This is quite consistent with other parts of these 

letters, though not very consistent with candor and fair deal- 
ing. It is a hollow pretence to palliate the crimes of the slave- 
holder by casting the blame where it is not deserved. The 
guilt of the mother country we have no wish to lessen, nor 
even to palliate: let it stand in its dark enormity. Where sho 
is guilty let not her crimes be extenuated. Let her meet the 
obloquy which these deserve from the justly indignant moralist. 
But let no apology be offered in behalf of those who are 
guilty, by shuffling the blame on the shoulders of others. It 
is neither just nor honorable to excuse the foul deeds of slave- 
ry done in the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries by referring to royal acts made in the seventeenth. 
If the mis-guided government of Britain made and enforced 
such wicked and oppressive acts under the control of the Stu- 
arts, this infatuated policy ended with the British revolution, 
which drove that incorrigible family from the throne. And 
certainly, the authority of Britain, in this and every subject of 
government in the United States, ended with the revolution of 
America. From that moment forward, British legislation 
could neither make nor unmake slaves. On the mother coun- 
try, down to this date, may the blame of slavery be fairly laid ; 
and on her too may be charged the consequences of the then 
existing slavery to a certain extent. The government of the 
United States is not faulted for the existence of slavery at the 
time when she threw off the authority of the mother country ; 
nor is she faulted because she did not immediately abolish it. 
This was, perhaps, not practicable. It is admitted to be no 
easy task to get rid of any evil when once produced : in the 
case of slavery it is peculiarly so. It would not be safe, all at 
once to open the portals of freedom and equal rights to a nu- 
merous population debased by slavery. If the United Slates 
could not do this with safety, they had it, however, in their 
power to commence the work of emancipation ; and had there 
been a prevailing feeling of sympathy, and a love of justice to- 
wards the slave population, this would have been done. The 
bond of confederation would have embraced a provision for ei- 
ther the immediate or gradual and speedy abcJition of slavery. 
But no — the ill-used son of Africa was still to be excluded the 
pale of humanity, and held excommunicated from the precious 
rights of man ! For this, we blame the government of the 
United States; and for this shall she be visited by the retribu- 
tive justice of God. Such flagrant national sins cannot psss 
unpunished in the government of Him who is holy in all his 
ways, and righteous in all his works.* 

• " () America, what hast thou to account for on the bead of Sl«vei7 ! Thou hast 
maile j)rnvisir)n for iucreasiiij; the ntiinbej% iiiul continuing the bondage of thy sluvee. 
Thv jiiflsjnients may tarry, but they will as»ure<Jlv come." — Sermon on SUverjr, hj 
Dr. McLcod, p. 19. 



36 



If the United States had felt but a lithe of the iiUerest for th^t 
colored population, which they did for delivering the States 
from the domination of Britain, the name of slave would long; 
since hare ceased ; and the otlierwise sacred soil of freedom 
would not now have been polluted by the footstep of a bond- 
man. By a series of wise regulations, in a few years, thrv 
might have gradually but effectually abolished slavery. And^ 
because they despised the cry of the oppressed, sin lies at 
their door. 

Futile is the apology, that the evil of continuing slavery is 
chargeable only on the slave-holding States. It is chargeable 
on the whole land.f It was not enough that the non-holding 
States should have abolished it within their own limits; this, 
was so far good ; but they ought not to have countenanced the 
other Slates in their continuance of slavery by a moral associ- 
ation with them, while persevering in it. It is said that the 
Southern States would not have consented to the abolition of 
slavery. We doubt the accuracy of the opinion. It is rather 
an excuse for doing an evil, than a sufficient reason why it 
could not have been avoided. Had the non-lialding Slates 
made this question " a sine qua non'^ of their accession to the 
bond of confederacy, it is prr^bable that it might have been 
yielded. And if the slave-holding States would not have con-^ 
sented, what then? I\lust tlie former confede^'ate with then^ 
on these terms A refusal to join in the Union we are aware, 
would have been hazardous. An efTective union of the States 
was of the utu'iost importance; but it w^s possible to obtain ii 
at too great a price. To confederate, for moral purposes, with 
others, when, in a certain sense, theinrnmoralities must be re-^ 
cognized, was a price too great for even the benefits of tlie Un-* 
ion. At best, it has only the recommendation of expediency — • 
a principle which no man nor community of men ought to 
plead for their moral doings. Mere expediency often leads la 
direct violations of truth and righteousness. If an action or 
course of actions is not right, no advantage to be derived, no 
inconvenience to be endured should stand in the way of an ab- 
solute refusal. Loss, and even privation and suHering are to 
be preferred to sinning, however advantageous. 

Slavery exists in the United States. States were received 
into the confederacy, stained and polluted as tljey were, with 
this enormous sin. The constitution recognizes the right of the 

•j-*'That luitinn lias bnt feeble claims to virtuous ilUin)inHii(m— In {;:enfrnsity — to jus- 
tice, Mliitli loleratt's, ii(»t In meiilioti fiuiiini iz'usi. <ih' iDercilt ss nibbing; *<k a felb.M nior" 
lal ol nil ihal is vaiujible lo liini, in lili — bis llbeity." '! o ibis is atliiclud ibe Ibllow- 
it)gnote: — " W bile the Unilt-d Stafts E-l;iml, in point n|" justice arn! gtMiorosily tc)\»«i-d» 
foreign niitions, upon a pp nd enunenio; }<i>(l tbe Ibi m (f tbcif g( vei nnient istlu'best 
adajilt'd ct any under llie si;n, to Ptcure (be rigbts f t bi niftmij ; it isiio snittll n ntUT 
of regret, lliut ibcir gir.ry is tai nisbed wilb ibc bl; ek ilvt ih of tlnvt ry."— Uuiy of 
Nations, p.p. 18, 19. Of ibe fniud States cnnsliliition, ibe tt8iinif)ny of tbe (hnrch 
says, — " It tBlablisbes ibat system of robbery, by which nieii at* held in sluveiy— 
dcspoilt'd of liberty, and property, and protection." — Historical [art, p. ]f>6. 



S7 

flave Slates to persevere in this immorality, and makes it ob* 
iigalory on the free States to aid them in the recovery of their 
slaves when ih^y may abscond.^ Tlie constitution provided, 
that for more than twmty years the importation of new slaves 
should not be prohibited. Thus, dealing in the souls and bo" 
dies of men, was made a lawfid traffic by an article of the con- 
stitution.! The United States have, and still continue to per- 
mit slavery in the territories under their immediate jurisdic- 
tion, where there are no State claims to clash with the opera^ 
tions of the general government ; and the United States per- 
mit slavery in the District of Columbia, over which they havo 
original and sole jurisdiction. Here Congress have, delegated 
10 them, all the municipal authority and residuary sovereignty 
which, in the case of States, are reserved to the local Legis- 
latures.J 

To cover the guilt of the United States hy representing them 
as only regulating by law, what they could not eradicate, is 
something we did not expect from a christian minister. But 
true it is — To legislate respecting an evil which cannot be 
eradicated is not wrong. Slavery, such as thai of which we 
complain, is an evil — it was always so ; it was so in Israel ; 
but was it the practice of the East^ and interwoven with the hab- 
its of thought that prevailed am.ong the descendants of Jacob. 
It is a mistake to suppose, that Cod approved of slavery in 
Israel, except as a punishrqent of crime. He no more approve 
ed of their general practice of slavery than of their hard-hearted 
divorces. Both vyere, in principle, opposed to his law of love. 
Yet, respecting both he legislated wiiliout at once abolishing 
either." If there be any meaning or foi'ce in this passage, it is, 
that slavery in Israel was so deeply rooted that even Almighty 
Y^owQY could not eradicate it. And concerning what God could 
not eradicate, he has legislated. Did the Doctor seriously con- 
sider whither this would lead him O, tell it not in Gath! It 
is bad enough to hide llie guilt of slavery, but it is infinitely 
worse to pervert sci ij)ture, by making it the apologist of this 
hideous crime || Domestic servitude among the qIcvvs was not 

• " person held to labor in one State uivler t!ie I'.ws Uiereof, escaping into imo- 
ther, sliall, in consfquence f)f a:iy law or regnUwion (lierein. Ije disclnitgcd from sqeli 
ferviee or lnbor; hut shall Ije clelivfrTcd up on claim of ihe |)arl}' to uho?n such scrvige 
or labor miiv lie due,"— U, S, constitution, Art, 4, Sec, .3, 

f"'l'he migration or importation of such persons as any of the Slates now existing, 
shall tliink proper to admit, ^liall not Le pi oliibited by ibe Congress prior to the yoHf- 
one thousand eiglit hundred and eigbt."-^ C/l S. constitution, Art. I, Sep, 9, 

" The Congress shall have power" — **To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases 
•whatgoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) «s m;'y, by cession of 
partieulur fctates and the accept asice of Congress, beconiethe H'.\X ol gOYeninit-nt of 
Uie United Slates."— Art 1, Sec 8 of the C7, cotistjt.ulion, 

II This cannot be considered too severe, if there Js pny value given to the opinion of 
oiie who. although pot friendly to the cbrisiian religion, viys so shocked villi llw' ♦'vil 
of slavery as to say, Indeed I tremble f >r my country, when I refiec'. tbx: G'ld is 
just: that his jusiiea cannot sleep forever: (bat an exchange of sitiialione '># f*mong 
poisible events, that it jnay become probsiule by supornatiiral interference. -.Jeficri>son. 



3S 

of the same Vir\A witli ne2;ro slavery. It was a mere disposal 
of time and service for a limited period. " If thou buy an He- 
brew servant, six years he shall serve ; and in the seventh he 
shall go out, free for nothing;." — Exod. 21 — 2. '-And if thy 
brother, that dvvelleth by thee, be waxen poor, and be sold 
unto thee, thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond ser- 
vant, but as an hired servant." — Lev. 25 — 39. In some cases it 
was the punishment of crime. Respecting the heathen nations, 
God gave the Jews command to make bond-men and bond- maids: 
this was not legislating about what could not be eradicated, but 
conveying a moral right to reduce them to servitude, because of 
their sins. Wliere such a commission cannot be produced, it is 
hoped no reference will be made to this. Servitude, as it ex- 
isted among the Jews, was altogether diiierent from negro 
slavery, and cannot without a perve/son of scripture and an in- 
sult on the law-giver of Israel be considered as a precedent.'* 
On the subject of slavery, the Holy One of Israel has indeed 
legislated, but it is in the positive prohibition of the sin and the 
punishment with which it was to be visited. — " He that steal- 
eih a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he 
shall surely be put to death. — Exod. 21 — 1$. In the new 
testament " men-stealers" are classed with the vilest trans- 
cressors of the Divine law, for the punishment of whom the 
law is made. — I Tim. 1 — 10. 

In the concluding part of the fourth letter we find an asser- 
tion, which we were not prepared to expect, even from Dr» 
Mc^Mustcr. A similar assertion is made in the first letter, the 
consideration of which has been reserved till now, that both 
may be examined together. In ibis land, assuredly no church, 
of which we have heard, has ever made the rejection of our 
civil institutions a iesser-a of fitness for her fellowship." *' No 
christian could expose himself to censure before the well-or- 
dered courts of the church of God, for associating with his fel- 
low-citizens of the State, under such institutions, though altc-» 
gether silent in respect to principles and ordinances peculiar to 
the system of grace." Has Dr. IMcMaster no knowledge of 
any tiling of this kind? Has he never heard of such a ^UesscraT' 
Has he never heard of any member of the Keformed Presby- 
terian church paying fines rather than do any thing that could 
be considered an approbation of the moral character of the in- 
stitutions of the United States.^ Has he never heard any thing 
ofthe common law and practice of this church, respecting her 
relations to the civil institutions of the United States ? Has he 
never known of any member of the church called before a 
court " for associating with his fellow-citizens, under such in- 

*■ You cannnt Mfgue concliisively id defei^ce of negro slave: _v tVoiu Uic praciii-e of tl)0 
a:>eit-nl Hebrews, iinli ss voo can piove, 1st. that ihe s!a\oi v into wh'ch U.ev were per- 
r.iiUvHl to j-eiliice llieir tVllow-creaturos w;is siniiiRr to that in wliich the iif{;vues are 
HUM- hvid : :nul Oilly, tint yon liave the same permission t'xieiuleil to you. — Sermon otx 
sliivrry, by Ur. MeLeod, p. iy. 



S9 

idrjtions ?'* If he cannot answer these questions satisfactorilr, 

he may ask some honest and intelligent member of the church, 
who, we dare say, will be able to give all information. 

It appears, that notwithstanding the many nice and ingenious 
things which the Doctor has said, he had some mis-givings as 
to the elTect of his plea. And now, to make an impression on 
his readers, he dogmatically asserts what every intelligent mem- 
ber of the Reformed Presbyterian church knows to be untrue. 

Hitherto we have examined the subject as to its truth. On 
this ground we have examined the Doctor's claims for the civil 
institutions of the United States; and we have ascertained that 
they are not entitled to the conscientious acknowledgment of 
christians — because they are defective, immoral, and not ia 
subjection to Messiah. The question is now brought to ano- 
ther issue — Has the Reformed Presbyterian church recognized 
them as God's ordinance ? We answer in the negative. So 
far from recognizing them as the ordinance of God, she has 
made separation from them a tessera of fitness for her fel- 
lowshi])/' The supreme judicature of the church has legisla- 
ted on this subject: — "In the course of this session two acts 
were passed by the Presbytery which are important^ as con- 
taining practical directions for the conduct of individuals, mem- 
bers of the church — an act respecting giving oath, when sum- 
moned before the constituted authorities of the nation — and an 
act respecting serving as jurors in courts of justice.'* The 
act of the Presbytery respecting serving on juries, is absolutely- 
prohibitory. " There are moral evils essential to the constitu- 
tion of the United States which render it necessary to refuse 
allegiance to the whole system." " Since the adoption of the 
constitution, \^ 1789, the members of the Reformed Presby- 
terian church have maintained a constant testimony against 
these evils. They have refused to serve in any office v/hich 
implies an approbation of the constitution, or which is placed 
under the direction of an immoral law. They have abstained 
from giving their votes at elections for legislators or officers 
who must be qualified to act by an oath of allegiance to this 
immoral system. "f 

Such is tlie legislation of the church on this subject, and such are the grounds 
on which she legislated. Historical \iA\\ of the teslimtiy. p. p, 133, 157. I'he record 
of these acts, and the rearjons f -r wiiich they were passed, are rt cognized by the higii- 
C3t autltority in the church. " The Ueiornied Presbytery do hereby ratity and ap- 
prove of the preface and brief historical view of ihe church, with the proposed amend- 
ments and additions." Wiih tliis s-anction these become of equal authority with tlie 
docti lfial part of the teslimonv Some men have a happy knack of getting up objee- 
tions: we are lold by such, that though the chnich passed these acts, and solemnly 
sanctioned their reconl, yet ihey are not lorrns ot communion. These objectors have 
forgotten that '-a regular life and conversation" is. one of the terms of communiofi, and 
that the church, by her highest judicature has declared that the constitution of the U. 
Stales " is, notwithstanding its umeroiis excellencies, in many cases inconsistent, op. 
pressive, and imiiious." Hist, part of the :estin.ony, p. lot). How can "a regular 
life and conversation" be raaintaiued aiid yet a.ssociale with that which is inconsistent, 
oppressive, and impious ? Be it remembered, also, that cue of the eriwa condemnetl 
by the testimony, is itiat it is lawful to profess or swear allegiance to aa imraoraJ oon- 
rttajtion of oiril gowrsment." p. IK). 



4(i 



Sessions in many congregations hixve applied the discipline 
of the chnrcli to individuals, tor associating with their fellovy 
citizens In tbc civil institutions of tiie United estates. Tiiis es- 
tablishes the fact, that the praciico of the ciuirch is in corres- 
pondence with her statutes. Thus we have not only statute, 
but common law. 

The approved writings of ministers afford a commentary on 
the law and the practice of the church. The author of the 
" Sons of Oil," after having given nine reasons why we can- 
not yield obedience, for conscience sake^ to the present civil 
authority in North America ;" says '*we ought to do no act 
which may justly be considered an homologation of their ille- 
gitimate authority. We cannot elect public functionaries to 
fill the various offices in the State; for between the electors 
and the elected, there is a representative oneness; so that every 
official act done constitutionally by the latter, is virtually done 
by the former^ through his representative organ. He must 
also be introduced into oliice by an oath, homologating the 
constitution. Whatever, therefore, we cannot do ourselves, on 
account of its immorality, we ought not to employ others to 
pertbrm." 

The letters of Dr. McMaster are calculated to distract the 
members of the church, and divide them in sentiment, by 
breaking in on the established laws and practices of the church. 
At the present juncture, when the testimony of the Reformed 
Presbyterian church has strong opposition to encounter from 
oiher source?, their publication was particularly unwise. It 
was not in obedience to the command of the Lord, Stand ye 
in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the 
good way, and walk therein. — Jer. G, 16. It was equally un- 
generous : the writer of these letters, as well as others, had 
employed his talents, both by preac'iing and writing in defence 
of the testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian church. In 
*' the Duty of Nations" lie had exposed the immoralities of the 
civil institutions of the United States, and was thus the means 
of instructing many a christian to keep aloof from them : it is, 
therefore, unkind now to disturb llie settled opinion of these 
members of the church, and create in their minds the writhings 
of disquietude. They had been taught that, till the introduc- 
tion of the miilsnium, no civil governn^ent would exist exem- 
plifying God's ordinance of magistracy.^ And now they are 
told that "no christian would expose hiuTself to censure before 
the well ordered courts of the church of God, far associating 

• " Anrl lliousilj a lawfullr constimtal gDrernment ccnUl not be fniimt, il would be 
no more than ihe clirislian has been tau^lil lo cxfiect. Durins;? llie lortv-luo nionlhs 
in which ihe h'>l7 sity "u Id be U'ikMlmi iMiler fool, an:I the woman is buni^hed into the 
wiKlcrness, it would be in vain tor any c in'iilerabli; length ot' li.ne, lo calculate on anr 
other order of things, bo far from ihis being an ohjeclion, it may be B'Jruilled as a 
iruili — n irulli which loiy be improFed against tiie inhilel, and whieh will bear equall)^ 
KarJ t>n th« adfocaits of eiei y power that exigts." Duty of Nation*. 



it 



-\nti his fellow-cilizens of the Stale under such itislitutiona.*' 
Who can calculate the mischief which may be done by such 
contradictory opinions f If a man feels disposed to vascilatd 
from sentiment to sentiment; and though this should cause ua 
uneasiness to himself, he ought to have compassion upon others. 
Those who look to him for instruction may not be prepared to 
throw away their convictions of truth at every movement of his 
rna2;ic wand; but it may be tha cause of the most poignant 
sufiering. 

We have been induced to examine the letters of Dr. Mc- 
Master, solely by a sense of duty. The prosecution of this 
examination has afforded no personal gratification : — but how- 
ever unpleasant the task,- the testimony of the Redeemer de- 
manded it; and personal feelings and considerations must b© 
sacrificed at the shrine of truth. An attack was made on th« 
settled principles and practices of the Reformed Presbyterian 
church. These principles we have repeatedly vowed to main- 
tain; and, without a violation of our vows, we could not look 
tamely on, and make no attempt to defend the glorious, though 
despised cause of a Covenanted Reformation. 

Before we take leave of our readers, w^e address a few gen- 
eral observations to the members of the Church. 

DcAR Brethren : — The truth may be held in unrighteous- 
ness : it is so held, if either ignorance or prejudice influence a 
man in his preference of one opinion to another. It is but aa 
empty homage to truth, to maintain it without knowing its evi- 
dence. Every prudent man endeavours to understand why be 
should prefer one opinion to another; he should be particu- 
larly so in the adoption of religious sentiments. Make your- 
selves, then, w^ell acquainted not only with the doctrines of re- 
ligion in general, but with those also that are peculiarly dis- 
tinctive of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. These ara 
notj as designing or superficial men would make you believe, 
something added to our common Christianity ; they form a 
part of it. Nor would they be worthy of your attention, if 
they were not a part of the Faith once delivered to the Saints. 
They are not the testimony of man in behalf of the truth ; but a 
part, and an important part of the truth itself. They mostly re- 
late to the kingly character of the Redeemer. The great body 
of Christians, while they maintain a testimony for the priestly 
and prophetual offices of Christ, show but little concern for 
his royal honors. They occupy, however, a prominent place 
in the sacred Scriptures ; and they constitute a striking and dis- 
tinctive feature in the testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian 
Church ; and because they have been trampled upon by the 
nations of the earth, her members have refused to associate 
in their affairs of government. Covenanters cannot, consis- 
tently with their testimony, swear allegiance to civil eonslitu- 



4^ 

lions fram?d ia utter disregard to the claims of Messiah ; nor 
politically incorporate themselves with such institutions. Stu- 
dy, brethren, those glorious truths which relate to the King of 
Zion, that you may be able to maintain an intelligent testimo- 
ny in their behalf: and while the nations, and their rulers, 
]:.ractically reject his claims, and "take counsel together 
against the Lord, and against his annointed, saying, let us 
break their bandi assunder, and cast away their bonds from 
us be ready to stand forward, the unassuming but intelli- 
gent witnesses for truth! *' Be ready always to give an answer 
to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in 
you with meekness and fear."* 

In the successful prosecution of your testimony, moderation 
will be found an important acquisition. Violence and passion 
are not the weapons by which truth is to be defended. They 
always injure its sacred cause. Not only is moderation neces- 
sary, as it respects temper and feeling, but also in the applica- 
tion of truth. None are more likely to become extremely er- 
roneous, than those who, in the heat of an unmeasured zeal, 
have gone to right hard extremes. This is exemplified at the 
present moment. The men who have thought proper to 
change their opinions of the testimony of the Church, are, 
some, of them the very men v;ho at one time v.'ere the most 
violent in testimony-bearing. The advise of Solomon, though 
apparently paradoxical, is fraught with salutary instruction to 
inen of boisterous temperament: "Be not righteous over 
much." Moderation, in the sense in which it is now inculcat- 
ed, is not only compatible with christian zeal and firmness, 
but by experience we learn that these cannot flourish except 
under its friendly shade. " Let your moderation be known 
unto all men. The Lord is at hand." 

In maintaining a decided and consistent testimony for the 
kingly honours of the Redeemer, you will meet, brethren, with 
much opposition. You are engaged in a severe and soul-try- 
ing struggle. You must prepare yourselves for encountering 
liostile opinion, pnd bearing the supercilious and scornful 
treatment of those who are at ease in Zion, as well as the rid- 
icule and reproach of an infidel world. But " Blessed are they 
who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for their's is the 
kindom of Heaven." The jarring of opinion and the rude- 
ness of reproach, are calculated to sour the disposition and 
render it unkind. Be particularly on your guard as it respects 
this. Avoid an uncharitable and misanthropic disposition. 
\Vhile you determinedly hold to the testimony of Jesus, and 

* Exarrine the scriptures thoroughly vhich relate to this (siihject. Bj these 
fompaie ihe Churcli's testimony, luul take advantsige of such Morks as the foilowing, 
to assist }ou in gaming an acquaiiitunce with this iniporlanl qu.ebtion : *• Messiah Go- 
vernor of the nations of the earth," hy Dr. McLeod, *'The sul>jection of kings and 
nations Lo Messiah," and " a ir'ernion on Civil (iovernmeni," by hi\ Willsou 



43 



oppose with firmness the errors of others, cultivate feelings of 
charity towards the persons of those whom you are called to 
resist. " Lovo your enemies, bless them that curse you, do 
good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despileful- 
ly use you and persecute you ; that you may be the children 
of your Father in Heaven." Math. 5, 44 — 45. 

In the heat of polemical warfare — in the excitement pro- 
duced by the clashing of opinion, there is danger that the 
power of practical religion may become weakened. The in- 
cessant employment of the understanding in defending doctri- 
nal truth, is apt to leave the heart uncultivated and unengaged. 
It may improve the head, but too often it leaves the heart 
cold and unaffected. With a great knowledge of religion, it 
is possible, after all a man, may not be religious. To know, and 
talk much of religion, is not religion. Real religion is deeply 
seated in the affections. A man cannot be religions without 
knowledge, but he may have knowledge without religion. This 
urges the vast importance of watchfulness, lest personal piety 
should decline. It is of delicate texture and may be easily 
hurt; it requires to be nourished by a continual intercoursQ 
with God, in the exercise of faith aud love — a frequent retire- 
ment from bustling of dispute and the collision of sentiment — 
frequent meditation on the truths of the gospel in their practi- 
cal efficacy — and much fellowship with God in earnest prayer. 

Pray without ceasing." These employments will enlarge and 
strengthen the power of vital godliness in the heart, and assi- 
milate the believer to the Lord Jesus Christ, 

The religion of Jesus is practical: its influence in the heart 
will always be illustrated by a proportionate power over the 
life and conversation of the believer. "Ye are my friends, 
if ye do whatsoever! command you." Ye are called unto ho- 
liness. Exemplify the purity of your religion by the holiness 
of your lives, and an all pervading submission to the will of 
your Father in Heaven. Exert yourselves for the enlargement 
of his kingdom ; and while the daily prayer flows from your 
lips, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven," manifest by 
a holy life, that the kingdom of God is come within your own 
souls. And rest assured. Brethren, that however dark the pros- 
pect of your testimony may be at the present time, it shall 
finally prevail. " I will give power to my two witnesses, and 
they shall overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and by 
the word of their testimony." Your testimony is the cause of 
Christ, and he will arise and plead His own cause. The time 
to favor Zion is approaching. The Lord shall come out of his 
place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. 
And " the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms 
of our Lord and of his Christ:" And " He shall reign for ever 
and ever." While your testimony, is in finishing, you have 



44 



the security that no weapon formed against Zion shall prosper* 
♦'There Nvill I make the horn of David to hud : I have ordain- 
ed a hiinp for mine annointed. His enemies will I clothe with 
shame, and upon himself shall his crown flourish. Even so, 
come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be 
with you all. Amen.'* 



Note. — Since the preceding pages were sent to press a 
Proclamation has been issued by the Executive of the United 
States, by which the view we have given of the Federal Gov- 
ernment is fully borne out. In this well-reasoned document 
it is clearly shown that the Federal Government is not a league 
of sovereignties, but a real and proper government. We give 
the following extract, as the conclusion to which the writer of 
the admirable article comes. 

''The constitution of the United States then, forms a gov- 
ernment, not a league, and whether it be formed by compac? 
between the States, or in any other manner, its character is the 
same. It is a government in which all the people are repre- 
sented, which operates directly on the people individually, not 
upon thd States," 




pll^i^tulri Uu EHJl SMITH ELBERT J38 

Jitt Jltcmnrmut 

KATHARIIIE CQMAH 



:\9